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THE WORLD SITUATION TODAY
  Karl Arnold Belser
2 November 2016



I am embarrassed that I didn't follow my own advice in my post False Positive Probabilities of stating  the base case, that is a description of the a priori geopolitical world, when writing this blog. One needs this view to make any kind of judgment about the uncertain future.

I just read the book The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan, which gives an excellent overview of the geopolitical world today, and also give several reasonably probable changes that might happen. I want to summarize Zeihan's assessment of the a priori geopolitical world.

The main conclusion is that North America is perfectly situated to defend against international conflict and that it can survive with a good standard of living without much from the rest of the world. This is the best case situation that I talk about in my prior post Optimal Fragmentation.  My post Reverse Globalization explains why countries like the US may have to fragment and become more nationalistic.

The "good Position" is simply that North America is defensible by being isolated with oceans on the east and west, a friendly, and economically dependent Canada on the north, and a hard working, but disorganized, group of nations on the south that the United States can dominate. It also has a huge fertile inland plain riddled with rivers for crop transportation and flanked on the east and west with mountains for protection. The agriculture is sufficient to feed the nation without outside help. It also has ample oil and natural gas reserves to allow the United States to be energy independent. Potable water can be obtained from desalinated sea water given abundant energy. Further, The United States has a slowly growing population and a flat demographic distribution with respect to age. Thus there will be enough workers to support the not-too-large older population.

No other region of the world has this optimal situation. The population of the rest of the world is growing extremely rapidly and will shortly lack resources to support their populations. the book The Great Surge: the Ascent of the Developing world by Steven Radelet shows that a disaster of monstrous proportions is about to happen because the third world is developing and consuming everything in sight as a result of aid from the first world. This situation cannot continue for long.
The world population is like a sky rocket that is about to explode and disintegrate.

Zeihan attributes the rapid increase in world economic development and consumption to part of the Bretton Woods Agreement made after the second world war in which the United States agreed to unilateraly defend the world's oceans to allow safe trade everywhere. this world cooperation has resulted in the safest and most affluent world in all of history according to Steven Pinker"s book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.

The catalyst for the end game is that the United States cannot afford to be the world's policeman. It will sooner or later have to withdraw this support given in the Bretton woods Agreement. The result will probably be wars over resources and religion. Religious beliefs have been the unifying factor for civilizations over the centuries.

Zeihan suggests that  a conflict between Pakistan and India in the Indus Valley may occur. Both countries have nuclear weapons. The Indus River has not been well managed and has the future prospects of much less water in the dry seasons and more flooding in the wet seasons. Further there is a significant religious undertone that could make the situation a disaster.

The other world vulnerability is that of Russia. Russia has a dramatically declining population. This decline is so serious that if Russia does not do something in the next several decades Russia will shrivel and die as a world power. Russia knows this and is acting to acquire more people and territory. The US really cannot interfere without the threat of nuclear war. The next US president better know this fact so that he or she does not precipitate a nuclear war by for example interfering in the middle east. If the necessary withdrawal from the Bretton Wood Agreement is implemented then Russia will have a free hand in acting in Turkey and the Baltic States. Russia needs to remove itself from being land locked and it must acquire a lot more people that will have children.

The United States will have to continue with its excellent military defense system in order to survive. It will also have to restrain itself from entering into a nuclear war with nations like Russia that are in steep decline. Withdrawal and defense will be the best strategy according to Zeihan..
    
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