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THE ACCIDENTAL SUPER POWER

Peter Zeihan

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Subtitle: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder, Hachet Book group, NY., 2014, 373 pgs., Index, footnotes, maps, tables, graphs, paperback

 
 

Reviewer comment
This is the first of three books Peter Zeihan as published on the same general themes. This one, dated in 2014, and in some respects overtaken by events since then, is nevertheless important as it sets the firm and unchanging background for all three. The three should be read in sequence but together.
His fundamental concept is that humans live in environments set by geographic real factors - weather, climate, topography, locations relative to each other and to natural resources and more. In the first several chapters he writes a summary of the results of these factors as they have influenced human history.

But what is the central factor that enables a society in one place to prosper while another in a different place does not. Mr. Zeihan frequently refers to 'capital' and its creation. But he apparently believes the readers understand what 'capital' IS. I doubt that. He skips over fundamentals expecting readers to know.
The fundamental basis of life is consumption. But all consumption requires prior production. In primitive societies producers consume all they produce and consumers produce all they consume. However, consumption is largely immedate, while production requires a time delay interval, so a means for storage of things between their production and consumption is required. Both production and consumption are social activities, meaning they are performed by a group varying from family to tribe to clas in early socities. But with the advent of specialization of labor producers do not consume all they produce nor do consumers produce all they consume. Both exchange things between themselves (on a society wide basis). Both activities require distribution. And distribution itself consumes some of the production. So Mr. Zeihan is actually focused on these three fundamental issues - production, distribution and consumption. Plus, the 'thing' that is required in all these to be exchanged is energy. And the source of energy is NOT distributed evenly throughout the world but in some places favorable for some humans and not favorable for other humans. So it is the history of production, distribution, and consumption of energy first and then of all other things (material and immaterial) that humans desire which is the first subject of the author's three books. And the second subject is how all this results in the production, distribution, and consumption of POWER.

One of the critical results of the above is the relative expense of movement through space - that is the cost of transportation (not only of material goods - but also of ideas - that is communications). Then he presents examples of the changing abilities of various societies located in favorable or unfavorable geographic conditions to take advantage of relative costs of transportation to advance their status, power, and even level of civilization. And these relative costs have changed dramatically over time due to development of technological capabilities. But still today, as it was throughout history transportation and communication via water is less expensive than overland. The technological ability now to move through the air complicates the situation.

That geography is a fundamental factor in determining human history is not a new idea. There are many books on geopolitics that stess the importance of the geographical envirionment in influencing what societies can and cannot achieve.

Since production, distribution and consumption are all accomplished by individuals in groups - people - another basic factor is the relative attributes of producers, distributors and consumers in society. A fundamental attrribute of population is demography which influences the relative number of potential producers versus consumers - and the relative amount of consumption by people in different age groups.

Returning to the idea of 'capital'. Capital is the retained earnings of production - that is the value of the amount of production not consumed by production itself plus distribution plus the immediate needs for consumption. And technology plus knowledge determines the quantity value of new capital that the investment of existing capital can create.

His second major theme is the impact on the world that has taken and is taking place due to the U.S. decisions on what and how to use its "Accidental" position as the world 'super power': - Meaning in location and in demography and in technical capacity and in knowledge to translate all these into Power.

Since World War II the U.S. has used its 'superpower' capacity both to finance much of world commerce and to protect it with its naval control of the sea lanes. Throughout the three books he identifies the origin of this U.S. policy and its implementation to the Bretton Woods Conference in which the allied powers and others met in 1944 to establish the post war monetary policy that would take the place of the 'gold standard' regime that had proceeded World War I but had failed during the interwar era and Great Depression. What happeneed is tht the U.S. replaced the U.K. both in the use of sterling as the financial base and the British Navy as the provider of protection.
The U.S. (with reluctant acquiescence of the other powers) established a two tier system in which the U.S. agreed to fix the value of the dollar to a specific quantity of gold and the other countries would 'peg' their currencies to the dollar. And also, in practice the U.S. undertook to defend and organize the world-wide commerce network - that meant under the defense of the U.S. navy. But now the U.S. is getting tired of playing this expensive role and will withdraw both its financing and protection.

His third major theme is that by coincidence American technological skill has unlocked the vast quantity of oil and natural gas in shale formations in the U. S. which, while being known for decades, has been technologically too expensive to extract. It is not only the physical attribute that the shale deposits contain Oil and Natural Gas, but that their locations are ideal from their relatively low expense of distriution. As is true with every technology the practicality of its application depends on the financial situation, such as interest rates for instance. This is a further reason the U.S. has not only the desire but the ability to withdraw from protecting the rest of the world. The books contain a detailed summary of the technical and financial aspects of extraction from shale and its impact on the world oil and natural gas industry.

The fourth major theme is that the demographic structure of each society - the size of its population in each 5 year birth increment - is shifting between societies with some resulting in much worse ratios of dependent elderly consumers to young producers than is the case for others.

A period of chaos will ensue. This is mostly predicted in this volume and its results are described fully in the third volume.

An important subject that Mr. Zeihan discusses in the course of his wide topic of the American impact on the world is its relation to China's effort to become the world superpower. His view is very different from those who are predicting China' future success. He demonstrates that China's rapid development over the past 20 years or so has been achieved Because of American direct and indirect support and that absent this in the future China's fundamental weaknesses will prevent its leaders' desired achievement. This can be considered in two ways: they will fail - or in a more desperate and aggressive effort they will pursue even more risky policies.

Mr. Zeihan's final conclusion from all three books is that in the long run - after the chaotic era is over - the U.S. will emerge as an even more powerful world superpower in spite of its self, due to its overwhelming fundamental advantages from geography, demography and energy productionwhich result in the largest and largest per capita creation of capital.

The author also publishes commentary on the Internet. Links to books 2 and 3 are below. I include in the review of book 2 - a list of references relevant to the trilogy.

 
 

Introduction:

A brief personal account by the author of his long interest in the subjects he addresses, especially geography and geopolitics. He introduces the basic idea of the role of geography underlying geopolitics.

Interestingly, he comments that his personal ideology is 'green, internationalist and libertarian' but his analysis is of the facts, which he does not like. He writes: "Demography tells me an ever larger slice of my income will be taken to fund a system that is ever less dynamic and accountable. I am not required to savor my conclusions. This isn't a book of recommendations on what I think Should happen. This is a book of predictions about what will happen".

 

Chapter 1. The World We Think We Know

The chapter is about the international conference held at the New Hampshire resort - Bretton Woods in 1944. He describes how the American delegation played hard by dominating on the obvious basis that the US would exit WWII as the world superpower. The British didn't like it. Neither did the French, but they knew that France was very weak. The European powers hoped (and maybe expected) to be able to retain their empires, but the Americans had much different ideas. In comparison with the disasterour results from the Post WWI negociations the Europeans and others could hardly believe how well off they would be even under American power. Among the results was the creation of the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund and the Internatonal Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The author identifies the issues - questions - that then dominated post war international relations - such as, why did the Americans advocate and create this new international system - how could they afford to do so - and why continue. It was the Americans who created the world, free market, commercial and financial system - financed it and defended it with military power. After all, it appeared that the Americans were generous and accepted huge financial losses by financing the world into recovery that would create competetors. He provides specific metrics to show that the American dominant position now, since Bretton Woods, is mostly the same.

Actually, he believes, Amerian relative power in the world is set to increase. But this American system of one world is ending and chaos will ensue.
He describes his organization of the material into four parts. First, how geography 'shapes international interactions: Second, discussion of the current international situation: Third, ideas about the changes coming in the future: and fourth, his description of five specific crises he considers will threaten world order.
Skipping ahead he previews his discussion of three fundamental geographic factors that underlie economic - hence - political power:
1 transportation, its difficulties and ease here or there:
2 abilities of various nations to take advantage of access to deep water navigation. :
3 industrialization. He considers that in all three of these underlying essentials the United States posses the 'most favorable' assets and atributes.
He writes that American power is based on this condition, hence is in a way 'accidental'. He wants to explain how and why this is.

 
 

Chapter 2. Egypt: The Art of Getting from Here to There

This chapter is about the role of superior conditions that favor less expensive transportation of goods and services, begining with agricultural production, in the ability to generate capital (savings from the production process) that can finance other developments. He summarizes this: "Cheap, easy transportation does two things for you. first, it makes you a lot of money." It has been the main way in which 'capital' is created.
He, throughout, streses this term - concept - Capital - without actually making clear for the reader what that actually IS. Shifting from some remarks about water transportation in the United States, he then discusses at considerable length the early creation of what can be called - civilization - in Egypt due to the peculary aspects of the Nile River.

In this digression I disagree with some of his historical specifics, but agree with his basic conclusions.

 
 

Chapter 3. Technological Revolutions: Deepwater Navigation and Industrialization

Moving on from water transportation by river, he turns to deep water transportation in and across seas and oceans. His specific example is interesting. He credits the Ottoman Empire with generating great power due to its control of the Sea of Mamara - the water link between the Black and Mediterranian Seas. Well, yes, but what about much earlier control of the same place by the Athenians and then the Romans and Byzantine Romans? Historians credit Roman control of the entire Mediterranian with creation of their Empire. And more significant, the collapse of the Western but not Eastern Roman Empire to the loss of control of the Mediterranian.
He continues, by mentioning Ottoman economic power generated by its control of the western end of the Silk Road from China, true of course, but that control was not due to the Sea of Mamara but to control of Alexandria and the Levant coast. And he lays their defeat in conquest of western Europe to their defeat at Vienna in 1529. More significant were their defeats at Malta and Lepanto.
Moreover, it was their final capture of Byzantium and full control of Mamora and Crimea that very soon energized the western Europeans - such as the Portuguese - to find new routes to the Orient, which he next discusses.

Deep water Navigation 1: Expanding the field
In this section he describes in some detail the new technologies -crass-staff, carval, gunport - that enabled the Portugese and then Spanish to circumvent Ottoman control of the Silk Road route between East Asia and Western Europe - and then more with the control of the Western Hemisphere and Pacific.

Deep water Navigation II: England's Rise
He skips over the lengthy expansion and control of trade by the Dutch to move to a brief description of English replacement of the Portuguese.

Industrialization I: Manufacturing a New World
In this section he focuses on the replacement of human and animal muscle power by coal and its result, steam. Then he notes the development of chemicals and interchangeable parts.

The German Pressure Cooker - and Industrialization II: The German Juggernaut
An excellent, well explained description of German increase in power based on development of industrialization.

 
 

Chapter 4. Enter the Accidental Superpower

Mr. Zeihan points out that the United States was favored from the beginning by its 'inherited' best lands (I would say conquest of best lands) in the world by many measures. But he then focuses again on river transport as the most significant of all. He credits the existance of an excellent river system with the creation of 'capital' without explaining exactly what that term means. But his point is that considering that transport of production to the locals of its use or consumption can be so great as to make such movement uneconomic. But cheap river transport enables generation of very significant profit out of the movement itself in addition to the initial value of the cargo. He describes the Mississippi river system in detail. But to this is added the unique intercoastal waterway system. Together they provide 15,500 miles out of the national total of 17,600 miles of navigable water ways. Plus there are others as well.
His result is stated thusly: "The result is that the United States has the greatest volume and concentration of capital-generation opportunities in the world by an absolutely massive margin, and that oportunity is very heavily concentrated in a single united system."
He continues by pointing out other American advantages, such as: "The American geography is also a recipe for a consumer base that is absolutely massive." Another is the availability of credit. Another is the fertility of the land and its location in the temperate climate zone. Each of these advantages alone, he believes, would make the United States a world superpower. He provides plenty of maps to demonstrate all this to the reader.
Here, I should mention that the black/white printing of the book makes distinguishing variations on the maps difficult. But he has remedied this recently by publishing on line full color editions of his maps.
Then comes the location of all this, secure from foreign invasion by mountains and even more so by huge oceans. Plus of course he mentions American security from its only two land neighbors. The chapter is filled with discussion of many more advantages.

 

Chapter 5. Buying Off Geopolitics

This chapter moves on to geopolitics. The author begins with: "For most countries geopolitics are unforgiving. If you exist in harsh terrain or among harsh neighbors you just don't have many options for managing your affairs, assuming circumstances allow any options at all."
But, he stresses: "America's physical place in the world is not just benign, but empowering."

The Limits of Superpowerhood

The author turns to a brief summary of World War II with emphasis on the fact that the war left America with even more power than it has pre-war from its location and physical endowments. Its new strategic position was 'awesome; in its 'sheer magnitude'.
His summary: "It was the single greatest concentration of power that the world had ever seen." But there were problems and disadvantages. He contrasts the United States' world situation with that of Soviet Russia.

Waging Peace: Free Trade as a Weapon
In this section Mr. Zeihan discusses: Access to the American market - Protection for all shipping - A strategic Umbrella as well as 'The lure of Bretton Woods' as the main policy and action segments of the American geopolitical program to counter the Soviet Union. It was very successful, for one reason among many, because it was so favorable for those nations that mattered that they willingly, even eagerly, joined in. Among the potential problems was that the British and French didn't much like the cost to them of loosing their empires to independent nations. (see the Suez War in 1956).

Scared New World: An Expensive Antique
The author's main point here and in the remainder of the three books is that maintaing this Bretton Woods based system that the Americans created is expensive and now, not only unnecessary but counerproductive. It was a 'strategic tool all along, not an economic strategy.'

The one worlders are sure to object to this.

"For the Americans, international trade has typically been a sideshow."

They will hate this idea.

Further, "The Americans are no longer gaining a strategic benefit from that network, even as the economic cost continues." So the Bretton Woods era will end.
"But that is only the first of three imminent convulsions that will tear the global order asunder."

 

Chapter 6. The Demographic Roller Coaster

In this chapter Mr. Zeihan describes the second convulsion - the world-wide changes in national demography. He conbines demographic change with geopolitical change.

Demographics, Capital, and Technology
It is technology resulting in industrialization resulting in the rapid shift from rural to urban living that has created the drastic decline in birth rates, especially in the developed (meaning industrialized) nations to the point that they no longer maintain their populations. This impacts everything. He describes the many results. He presents many of the standard pyramid shaped graphics that show the relative size of each 5 year increment in a country's population. In these graphics he distinguishes those year groups in the 0 to 29 year age segments from the 30 to 59 year groups from the 60 + year age groups. To these he adds some information about national finances, capital fleeing some countries, oil production data and other variables to expand the analysis of what the future will bring.

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light.
In this brief section the author discusses what various countries are doing or can do about this coming lack of critical population - that is workers.

The Ameriocan Exception: Youth, Immigration and Regeneration
Again, it turns out that the United States is in relatively a better situation in this factor than many other 'developed' countries. howefe3er, while the United States will remain the world's by far largest consumer market, the long list of other countries for which the Bretton Woods system was created by the Americans their consumer markets will shrink drastically. Another reason the Americans will loose interest in maintaining and funding the system.

 

Chapter 7. The Rise of Shale

Next comes the impact of the revolution in oil - natural gas production from shale formations. This book was written and published in 2014, rather early in this revolution and the author is mostly predictive in his assessments. A much more detailed analysis complete with copious technical and financial detail in in the second book in the series. This chapter includes several maps showing locations of shale formations. The topics the author includes are :
A bit of Geology to set the Mood
- He explains the creation of shale deposits.

Sustainable Shale
He notes that over time the official estimates on the quantity of oil and gas recoverable from shale have been increasing rapidly and shows a graph depicting the huge increase in U.S. oil production

(On the Verge of ) Shale Acceptance
He notes that so far Americans have not been trusting the shale industry. They have been concerned about many detrimental aspects of the drilling and associated requirements

Shale: An Industry That Speaks wih an American Accent
He believes that nevertheless the industry is due to expand.

I,. Huge Deep Capital Markets
The development of recovery of oil and gas from shale requires a huge amount of capital investment

2. Highly Skilled Labor
It requires experts in many scientific and industrial fields.

3. A Legal Structure That rewards Landowners for Their Partricipation
A very important difference that many people do not realize is that Americans are unique in comparison with Europeans in that In Europe and elsewhere the governmewnt claims ownership of EVERYTHING from under the ground surface, while in America the individual land owner owns everything under his land as well as on it. That is a huge incentive for the American to seek to profit from subsurface resources such as coal and oil.

4. Preexisting Natural Gas Collection, Transport, and Distrubution Infrastucture.
The extraction of oil from shale also means the extraction of natural gas. The transport of natural gas to markets requires its own infrastructure. Often this is too expensive so we see a great deal of natural gas for years has simply been burned off at the well head.

The Benefits of Shale
These are many including that it is 'cleaner' and produces less CO2 than other fules, especially coal.

Shale and Geography
The author includes more maps showing locations. One U.S. advantage is that the gas producing shale deposits are relatively near the consumption markets.

Shale, Transport and Electricity
Even though the transport of natural gas is expensive and its market price is falling, much of it is produced in the same process that extracts the oil, so it is an add on. And natural gas has a huge market in the production of electricity.

Scared new World: The United States Moves On.
The author dramatically states that the impact of production of oil and natural gas from shale will have a world-wide 'enormous' impact.

 

Chapter 8. The Coming International Disorder

Technology Development, and the Modern World
The author believes the world economic system is 'downright bizarre' due to the fact that any country can import or export from anywhere without fear of danger. This is historically unprecedented and entirely thanks to the U.S. fianancial system from Britton Woods Agreement and the U.S. capability and willingness to apply the power of the U.S. Navy to enforce security. The first creates the financial open free trade system and the second inhibites earstwhile thugs.
He writes that this has created "the greatest era of peace and prosperity the world has ever known". One cause is the advance of technology that enables countries to participate in the prosperity despite formerly considerable geographic problems. Another is the availability of capital (credit) at low cost. And this is available due to the safe flow of capital in international markets to agument the internal capital a country may create.
He expands: "On the global scale indusrialization allowed potential city sites to import everything they needed.... " He elaborates at considerable length.
Another point: "The American dictum that it Bretton Woods partners get along suspended normal geopolitical patterns." This enabled counties under American protection to reduce capital expenditure on military defense and devote it to economic expansion.

And more: "Mass financing plus mass trade lowered the bar to entry for countries looking to manufacture goods for export."

But, he believes, this nirvana is about to end. "The last seventy years have been incredible. But the trends we have both witnessed and enjoyed are nevertheless temporary, And they are nearly over."

Surfing the Peak
He draws attention to the day in 2007 when the first American Baby Boomer applied for Social Security benefits. Demography strikes and he describes the results, especially on the availability of capital. His conclusion is that in the short run the great expansion of available capital will fuel increased demand and thus consumption and rising asset values. But wait.

The Descent
Mr. Zeihan believes that this financial 'wave' will crest between 2020 and 2024. The coming demographic decline and end of international free trade will wreak havoc. Demographic decline will 'contract' the credit markets. Interest rates will increase. Consumption will decrease. International markets will contract. The U.S. all along has protected the Persian Gulf oil, not for its own sake, but in the interest of its allies - especially in Europe. Result is the end of economic expansion. Countries will be either to import or export or both, but into shrinking markets and without the safety of the American Navy. He provides many, many specific statistics. For instance, of the 30+ European countries, only one, Norway, is self sufficent in Oil and Natural Gas. Likewise is the situation of many other industrialized countries throughout the world. Obviously, the more industrialized a country is the more it depends on energy - ie, oil and NG. But also, the 'industrialization' of agricultural production makes even food supply in danger.

(Except for France, which, thinking way ahead, invested years ago in nuclear power.)

In reverse, the Middle East countries have plenty of oil but cannot feed themselves. The historical record indicates that when a country lacks anything it essentially needs it will exert what power it has to obtain it. He presents a stark picture:
"The wars of the not too distant future won't so much be for glory or pepper, but in many cases for the ability to remain part of the modern world. Or simply to remain."

America in the new Disorder
Mr.Zeihan believes that although the U.S. also will feel a negative impact, by virtue of its geopolitical strength, (land, demographics, energy, transportation) it will gain relative strength. He devote pages to describe all this.

Scared New World: The American Scenario
He considers that if the Americans care to interveen the descent into chaos could be at least gradual. But he doubts if the Americans will want to do so.

 

Chapter 9. Partners

Who's Who in the Disorder In this chapter he categorizes various countries in accordance with potential 'stability' and includes maps to aid the reader. He considers six categories:
1 State failures.
2 States decentralizing
3 Degraded states
4 Steady states
5 Rising states
6 Aggressive states

Partners: American Allies in the New Era
These, he believes, will be 'friends' for 4 main reasons:
1 Markets
2 Capital
3 Security
4 Trade

North America: The Inner Circle
For many reasons Canada and Mexico will be 'integrated' into one economic system not needing either Bretton Woods or the U.S. Navy
Cuba: Prodigal Returns
The topic - consideration - of Cuba is because its location can control or at least interfer in both the Florida and Yucatan Straits.

Columbia and Venezuela: Wealth of Ego?
South America geographically is not a unity. These two countries are entirely different from those to the south. Columbia accepts its role with the U.S. and Venezuela does not.

Europe: Cherry-Picking The Americans don't have to consider European interests very much and they won't. Denmark and Netherlands will act as middlemen to the rest since they control all access into and egress out of the rest.

The United Kingdom:
The book was written before that UK exited from the European Union.

Asia: Free Trade in Miniature
Thailand -
Sure to be an ally

Myanmar
Another likely ally

Taiwan and South Korea
Their strategic position makes them countries the U.S. would want as allies.

Singapore:
Key to the Strait of Malacca

Australia and New Zeland Natural reliable partners plus they will ensure South East Asia

Philippines Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam
They lack geographic conditions to have or exert power but they have potential resources and reognize that they need American assistance.

 

Chapter 10. Players
These are countries 'not fortunate enough' to be American partners. They likely will be forced to take actions to maintain national power.
Russia: Twilight Approaches
The author devotes considerable text and maps to describe how and why Russia will continue to decline. Not only its indefensable geography, but also its terrible demographics indicate it must act agressively. And the Ukraine and Central Asia create an even worse situation.

Turkey: An Ancient Power Awakes
The author gives high marks for Turkey's future. But I believe he places more cause for the past in the Sea of Marmara than it deserves. He devotes considerable space and attention to a detailed description and analysis of Turkey's strengths and weaknesses and sees much potential in Turkey's future. His prediction that Turkey will engage in significent military competition with Iran over Iraq has already come true. He outlook for Turkey versus Russia IN Ukraine is very interesting and thought provoking. He includes Turkish confrontations with Russia in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well.

Uzbekistan: Survival of the Fitest The Uzebeks are the strongest people in Central Asia and will be able to exert all the power they want over their neighboring Kazakhs, Turkomen, Tajiks and Kyrghiz. The central confromtation will be over water.

Saudi Arabia: Wrath of the Righteous
Mr. Zeihan comments: Saudi Arabia is a quintessential example of the sort of oddities that Bretton Woods encouraged to proliferate." And "This transformation (about oil) was - and remains - utterly dependent upon the current global setup." He notes that Saudi Arabia is fundamentally 'weak' and does not even have an indigenous work force. And they too have a big problem with Iran. In this section Mr. Zeihan includes comments about Iraq and Pakistan.

Japan: Dusting off Tojo
Japan prior to World War II and since then and today and the future has now natural resources. It must rely on naval power to secure everthing. Moreover, it is an already rapidly aging population. With an excellent map and text he describes what Japan 'needs' and what it must do. This includes for sure good relations with the United States.

Angola: Managing Genocide
The author notes the prevaling difficulties that geography places on nearly all of Africa. But, he indicates, Angola 'stands out' and it has a bright future. It cleared multi-ethnic internal division with a civil war leaving the Mbunda tribe in full control. Their chief concern now comes from South Africa with competition to control the valuable (economicly and straegicly) plateau to their east and South Africa's north. Angola's demography is very favorable, even in comparison with the favorable siuuation in South Africa.

Iran: From Enemy to Ally
The author devotes 8 pages to extensive description and analysis of the sources of Iranian strength and weakness. He identifies four neighboring powers that Iran would target: Mesopotamia, Saudi Arabia, the Caucasus states, Georgia and Armenia and Turkey. Thus, the American departure from the Persian Gulf won't help the Iranians as much as they hoped because they will face all four neighbors simultaneously.

And Now Things Get a Bit Complicated
In summary Mr. Zeihan sees America having a 'high bar' to cross before engaging in any of the forthcoming confronations. -See the following chapters

 
 

Chapter 11. History Returns to Europe
The future of Europe will be 'messy indeed'.

The European Geography
It is full of rivers, mountains, islands, broken highlands, coastal plains, but lacks significant internal defensive terrain. The excellent maps depict all this. It was American creation and enforcement of the Bretton Woods Agrement that enabled the many European national societies to devote themselves to a more common agenda of economic expansion instead of confrontation and defense preparatory to more conflict.

Problem One: Enter the Euro
The European river system lacks the unity of the American system so it does not serve to generate much capital. The effort to aleviate this by creation of the Euro is failing since the financial crisis.

Problem Two: Banking, the Sick Man of Europe
The author again: The European financial crisis has had many economic impacts, but the results have been worst in banking." The organization and relatiionship between European banks and industrial corporations is much different than that of America. So European governments use their banking systems in different ways in pursuit of different objectives. He includes a revealing graphic chart depicting the 'private sources of funding, 2011. It shows massively greater bank lending and much less reliance on equity funding than in the U.S.

Problem Three: Two Drivers, no Steering Wheel
There is competition - especially over power to control - between Germany and France resulting in frequent deadlock.

Problem Four: Out of Money (and Time)

Problem Five: Germany in Crisis

Problem Six: Aggressive Neighbors

Problem Seven: Men in the middle

 
 

Chapter 12. The Alberta Question

 
 

Chapter 13. The North American Drug War

 
 

Chapter 14. The China Wars

 
 

Chapter 15. Migration and Terrorism

 
 

Epilogue. The American Age

 
 

Appendix I. No Fear: Climate Change

 
 

Appendix II. Demography and Trade

 
 

References - but see the review of volume 2 for a more extensive list.

 
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Peter Zeihan -Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an ungoverned World This is book 3, the most recently published volume in the series.

 
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Peter Zeihan - The Absent Superpower This is the second book in the series - the links I include in review and commentary of this book also contains a list of some reference books for all three.

 
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Robert Kaplan - The Revenge of Geography

 
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Peter Frankopan - The Silk Roads: A new history of the World

 
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