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The Accidental Superpower

The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder

By Peter Zeihan
13-minute read
Audio available
The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder by Peter Zeihan

Today, the United States has a stronghold as the global superpower, but the world is changing at a historically unprecedented rate. These blinks outline the reasons the United States came to politically and economically dominate the planet, and what we can expect in the coming decades, both in the United States and the world at large.

  • Students of politics and economics
  • Anyone interested in ancient history
  • Anyone curious about the future

Peter Zeihan is an expert in geopolitics, the study of how geographical location impacts economic, cultural, political and military developments. His work has featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

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The Accidental Superpower

The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder

By Peter Zeihan
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder by Peter Zeihan
Synopsis

Today, the United States has a stronghold as the global superpower, but the world is changing at a historically unprecedented rate. These blinks outline the reasons the United States came to politically and economically dominate the planet, and what we can expect in the coming decades, both in the United States and the world at large.

Key idea 1 of 8

Empires rise or fall depending on their geographic and geopolitical position.

How did the ancient Egyptians build an empire that dominated their regions for hundreds of years?

Let’s start with geography. An empire or nation flourishes both culturally and economically when it has an advantageous geographic position. Before widespread globalization, nations were heavily dependent on the natural resources they had nearby, so regions with forests, rivers and oceans were more prosperous. Communities in harsh, mountainous, desert-like, or snowy areas struggled just to survive.

That's why so many ancient empires were situated in regions with abundant food and water. A surplus of food and water allows a community to trade, grow their wealth and focus more effort on developing their cultural life and military power.

In ancient Egypt, for example, the Nile provided them with a constant water supply and easy trade routes; the surrounding desert kept the community together while serving as a barrier to outsiders. Meanwhile, artistic and cultural development was a central focus. The government forced people to build huge monuments attesting to the greatness of the pharaohs.

Another important factor in how a nation gains power and influence is an advantageous geopolitical position, that is, how their relations with other nations was influenced by geographic factors. After all, it's difficult for a society to dominate a region if they're surrounded by competing societies, as was the case in modern-day Germany and France. That's a big part of the reason why the Egyptian empire was so powerful for so long – enemy nations rarely challenged them because doing so would mean crossing the sea or the desert.

These geographic and geopolitical factors are also apparent in the rise of other ancient empires, like the Ottoman and Roman empires. All in all, an empire's power rested largely on factors outside their control, like fertile soil and natural barriers. The same holds true for the modern United States.

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