A Geopolitical Tale

George Friedman, Następna dekada. Translation by Monika Wyrwas-Wiśniewska Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2012

George Friedman, the CEO of Stratfor, a private intelligence company, disagrees with American pundits, among them Zbigniew Brzeziński, Morris Berman and Fareed Zakaria, who are heralding the end of America’s dominance in the world. Friedman states that the USA will remain the global empire that they have become, unintentionally as he emphasizes, since the end of the Cold War. The US economy continues to be the strongest in the world, while the combined GDP of the most-populous developing countries (the BRIC group) accounts for only 60 per cent of American GDP. China, one of the BRIC members, is believed to be deposing the US as the main global power, but Friedman judges that its economy will weaken and in the next decade Beijing will not constitute a major challenge to Washington.

According to Friedman it is impossible for America to lose its position as the main global power. He deems the anti-imperialistic tones, coming from both sides of the political spectrum, impracticable. As we live in a world of global interconnectedness, particularly in economic terms, there is no turning back to nineteenth century isolationism, based on the Monroe Doctrine. Disputes over whether the USA should or can remain a global empire are void, Friedman claims. Instead the problem of how to fill the role of a global superpower should be thoroughly discussed.

Friedman envisions a US foreign policy which is focused on Eurasian countries where future conflicts will be fought. He presents novel insight into future US engagement in the Near East and in Europe.

Washington needs, according to Friedman, to seriously reconsider the recent reshuffling of coalitions in Arab countries. He emphasizes that the US should lessen its backing of Israel and turn its attention towards Iran. Even a clandestine agreement with the governing Shiites in Teheran may help Washington strengthen its position in the region where radical Sunnis are coming to power in more and more countries.

Such a scenario, although reasonable from the US point of view, sounds improbable today. But Friedman supports his view citing past unexpected diplomatic turns: the US alliance with the Soviet Union during World War II and American- Chinese rapprochement in the 1970s.

The biggest challenge in Europe will soon be rapprochement between Russia and Germany. Friedman reflects on the fact that Germany needs Russian gas and Russia needs German experts and technologies. In order to maintain its position and its strategic interests in Europe, the USA will be forced to equilibrate the agreement between Berlin and Moscow, which will grow stronger in the meantime.

Friedman believes that under such circumstances the USA should look for a strategic alliance with Poland, which is important due to its geopolitical location between Russia and Germany. As well, its demographic potential and dynamically developing economy should also be considered an advantage. America will need other Central European countries as well, especially Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, whose geopolitical location may deter Russia’s advancement in the Carpathian Basin. The USA should, according to Friedman, invest in military development, offering financial and technological support, along with the deployment of US troops in the region.

It is quite interesting that Friedman does not even consider that Poland and other countries might not be interested in such an offer. The problem is that a negligent attitude towards Central European countries, showed by American administrations in recent years, has alienated local players from Washington’s policies. Warsaw, Bratislava and Budapest have shifted their international priorities toward the European Union. This means implementing the strategy presented by Friedman may prove extremely difficult.

Dominika Sztuka

Dominika Sztuka is an expert in American domestic and foreign policy and works for the Polish think-tank Instytut Sobieskiego.

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