In the bestselling tradition of The World Is Flat and The Next 100 Years, THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER will be a much discussed, contrarian, and eye-opening assessment of American power.
Near the end of the Second World War, the United States made a bold strategic gambit that rewired the international system. Empires were abolished and replaced by a global arrangement enforced by the U.S. Navy. With all the world's oceans safe for the first time in history, markets and resources were made available for everyone. Enemies became partners.
We think of this system as normal-it is not. We live in an artificial world on borrowed time.
In THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER, international strategist Peter Zeihan examines how the hard rules of geography are eroding the American commitment to free trade; how much of the planet is aging into a mass retirement that will enervate markets and capital supplies; and how, against all odds, it is the ever-ravenous American economy that-alone among the developed nations-is rapidly approaching energy independence. Combined, these factors are doing nothing less than overturning the global system and ushering in a new (dis)order.
For most, that is a disaster-in-waiting, but not for the Americans. The shale revolution allows Americans to sidestep an increasingly dangerous energy market. Only the United States boasts a youth population large enough to escape the sucking maw of global aging. Most important, geography will matter more than ever in a de-globalizing world, and America's geography is simply sublime.
More by luck than by design, America will prosper in the coming decades while the world goes to hell, according to this eye-opening, contrarian survey of geopolitics. Geopolitical analyst Zeihan bases his predictions on "accidental" factors of the U.S.'s terrain (navigable rivers and rich farmland), resources (abundant shale gas and oil), demography (a relatively young, vigorous population), location (oceans that guard against invasion), and economics (vast consumer markets and cheap capital). The rest of the globe, he argues, will suffer from aging populations, dwindling resources, and the lack of a stable modern-day equivalent to the post-WWII Bretton Woods regime, which fostered free trade, protected sea lanes, and served the world's export market; the collapse of the international order will include the collapse of China, the breakup of Canada, and war in Europe. Zeihan's freewheeling, very readable analyses draw on historical examples, from ancient Egypt to modern Denmark, and a wealth of statistics, packaged with interesting maps and graphs. His generalizations can seem oversimplified, and his prognostications eccentric, such as the prediction that a "wave of young Uzbeks will wash asunder all foolish enough to stand in their way." Still, Zeihan's provocative take on how land, climate, energy, and population determine wealth and power makes for a stimulating challenge to conventional wisdom.