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The Next Decade

Empire and Republic in a Changing World

By George Friedman
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The Next Decade by George Friedman

The Next Decade (2011) offers us a glimpse into the future, exploring the ways in which the United States’ attempts to maintain its dominant position on the international stage will shape events in countries and regions around the world.

Key idea 1 of 9

The United States has the power of an empire that future presidents will have to wield wisely.

As the United States consolidates its influence over the rest of the world, it now faces the same challenge that ancient Rome once dealt with: maintaining an empire without relinquishing the republic.

The United States wields power that is disproportionate to its geographic size and population. The country’s military, for example, remains unchallenged by any other, and its economy produces more than three times that of its closest competitor.

This unique status as the world’s major superpower brings particular dangers, such as the attacks of September 11, 2001, which targeted the United States as a symbol of geopolitical domination.

To achieve its future goals, the United States will rely heavily on one person: the country’s president.

The president of the United States is the most powerful political leader in the world, one whose decisions regarding war, peace and economics reverberate across the globe and affect billions of lives. The invasion of Iraq, for example, has shaken the entire Middle East to its core for the past ten years, and has also resulted in the waves of refugees now seeking safety and security in nearby Europe.

Dealing with the realities of empire management doesn’t leave room for the president to exercise virtue. To protect American interests, the president will need to adopt an unsentimental approach: identify the most dangerous enemies, build necessary coalitions and manage them.

Ultimately, this will mean abandoning old alliances, such as NATO, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, and following the pragmatic example of past leaders who ruthlessly protected American interests.

For example, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped defeat the Third Reich during World War II by forming an alliance with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, despite the latter’s totalitarian rule and ruthless policies toward his own people.

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