Geo Politics

50 Year Projection (in process)

U.S. has secure borders immune to invasion +

Energy – Shale – largest reserves in world – cheapest production costs besides Saudi Arabia, best talent,

navigable waterways

fertile ag land

strong navy

best talent

best education system

The end of NATO & the old world order.  – the US kept the old world order in place by offering protection (NATO) in exchange for not falling in the communist block  & to protect US access to raw materials   That all ended with the discovery of shale. Now the US is pulling back from NATO & free trade. This was inevitable regardless who won the presidency in 2016.

The old world order

The new world order

China problems in the transition

Russia problems in the transition

Russia & China. Ultimately, both countries will fade away. In their place Turkey, Japan, UK & Poland wii arise. But no country in Europe will ever be dominant. The landscape makes European companies too vulnerable to invasion. Island nations are the safest, and therefore most likely to be world powers

“Geopolitics is ultimately the study of the balance between options and limitations. A country’s geography determines in large part what vulnerabilities it faces and what tools it holds. Countries with flat tracks of land—think Poland or Russia—find building infrastructure easier and so become rich faster, but also find themselves on the receiving end of invasions. This necessitates substantial standing armies, but the very act of attempting to gain a bit of security automatically triggers angst and paranoia in the neighbors. Countries with navigable rivers—France and Argentina being premier examples—start the game with some “infrastructure” already baked in. Such ease of internal transport not only makes these countries socially unified, wealthy, and cosmopolitan, but also more than a touch self-important. They show a distressing habit of becoming overimpressed with themselves—and so tend to overreach. Island nations enjoy security—think the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan—in part because of the physical separation from rivals, but also because they have no choice but to develop navies that help them keep others away from their shores. Armed with such tools, they find themselves actively meddling in the affairs of countries not just within arm’s reach, but half a world away.” Peter Ziehan, The Absent Superpower.

The middle of this map is why the United States is the global superpower, and will remain so long beyond the lives of your grandchildren. The Greater Midwest is the largest and most productive piece of arable land on the planet, out-producing the next two put together. But as important as that sounds (and is!) that’s really the side show. The real deal is the Greater Mississippi River system that perfectly overlays the Midwest. The first rule of geopolitics is that transport matters. Moving things by water is easy—so easy that today the cost of transporting goods by water is one-twelfth that of moving them by road. The Greater Mississippi system has more than 12,000 miles of interconnected waterways—more than the rest of the world put together. So long as this is true, the United States can move goods and grains and people about its system at a cost that seems laughably low compared to the internal transport costs of most countries.

Cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Memphis, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Francisco, St. Louis and so on, owe not just their existence but also much of their wealth to the cheapness of water transport. All also are, to varying degrees, financial centers. All that cargo throughput requires back-end support in inventorying, repackaging, buying and selling, which in turn requires a 24-hour-a-day ability to process goods and money. As such, cities rooted in water transport almost without exception also have a strong local banking culture. Since those banks were formed to service pre-existing economic needs rather than (geo) political ambitions, American banks also tend to be more measured in their borrowing and lending policies than banks created to serve the needs of the state, such as their peer institutions in Japan, China, Germany, or Greece. Put simply, American banks are independent institutions who see money as an economic good, while many of their foreign peers are little more than tools of state policy. That makes the foreign crowd far better at directing resources to achieve political goals such as maximum employment or infrastructure development or funding the government’s deficit, but the American system is far better at achieving long-term economic stability—ergo it is the United States that holds the title of the world’s financial superpower. Of course waterways aren’t responsible for moving all U.S. goods. In fact, the proportion of water-transported stuff in the United States has been dropping steadily for over a century. The first limiter on American maritime transport is politics. In 1920 Congress passed the Jones Act, which barred any ship from plying the American waterways that was not American-built, American-owned, American-captained, and American-crewed. The idea was to keep America’s maritime jobs with Americans and ensure the United States maintained a strong merchant marine, but like most protectionist measures, it had unwanted side effects. The cost of water transport tripled, shipping shifted wholesale for rail and road (which were no longer so much more expensive than water transport), lower demand for vessels prompted America’s shipyards to fall into disrepair, and nearly a century later most Americans are not even aware that water played (and still plays) such a central role in their country’s success. Washington and the state capitals also lost sight of this fact. America’s maritime infrastructure has been creeping into decay for decades—the average age of the locks is more than 60 years, with many now well over a century old and in need of wholesale replacement. 1

Peter Ziehan

George Friedman, Stratfor

 

 

 

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