The Coming War With Japan Hardcover – March 1, 1991, and predictions about Turkey in 2020

5/1/20 | 0 | 0 | 252 εμφανίσεις

George Friedman: from one prediction to another.

The Coming War With Japan Hardcover – March 1, 1991

Argues that the post-Cold War world will see the United States and Japan emerge as opponents, traces Japan’s increasing power, and contends the United States holds the trump cards in the economic contest

Keeping the future in focus

George Friedman’s Thoughts: A Speech in Istanbul

by George Friedman – January 2, 2020

Turkey’s decision to move its economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean to abut Libya’s and then to announce that it was planning to send troops to support the embattled government in Libya has changed the shape of the Middle East. The Libyan government is under attack by a faction with strong Russian support and troops. If the troops are sent, Turkey will have broken with the Russians by having troops on the ground in Libya.

Russian and Iranian troops began fighting against Turkish supporters in Syria. The United States carried out airstrikes against Iranian targets in Iraq. With Turkey facing the Russians in Libya and Syria, along with Russia’s current ally, Iran, where this leaves Israel is for the moment unclear. Put simply, it seems as though the U.S.-Turkey alliance logically is about to reemerge. This could of course all reverse itself or change shape, but at the moment Turkey has assumed its historic role as a major regional power.

I was invited to speak in late November in Istanbul to update my predictions for Turkey from my book “The Next 100 Years.” I spoke, as I had a decade before, about the inevitable reemergence of Turkey as a great power. I had reached that conclusion using my then-evolving forecasting method. Two things convinced me of this. The first was history. Asia Minor has historically generated empires. The eastern remnant of the Roman Empire was based in Constantinople, named for the great Christian emperor Constantine and later changed to Istanbul. The Muslim Ottomans later seized Asia minor and created an empire that lasted 500 years.

The last 100 years had been freakish. Modern Istanbul had been the seat of an empire ever since the third century, but after World War I, the empire left Istanbul in the hands of the secularists. Turkey, a small and impoverished nation, was all that remained. From my point of view, the last 100 years was a minor disruption in Turkish power. As the British and French left, and the Americans reconsidered their presence, only Turkey was in the geopolitical position to stabilize the region. If Asia Minor was the historic seat of empire, then Turkey was inherently more powerful than its neighbors.

I made the speech based on my model, which I believed, and that I’m sure was the speech my hosts expected I would make. Turkey would extend its power northwest into the Balkans, north into the Black Sea, into the Caucasus and into the Arab world. In addition, I said Turkey would emerge as the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it had before. After the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks made an alliance with the Christian city of Venice to dominate the Mediterranean. These were the rough boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, and before that of the Eastern Roman Empire.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the keynote address after my speech. Obviously he made no mention of his intentions in the Mediterranean, but he was strong and passionate in what he said. I had pleasant dinners and meetings with many people, some of whom had to know that Erdogan had already decided on a Mediterranean strategy. Quite reasonably no one mentioned it to me. I had not at all thought that he would begin with a leap into Libya, confronting the Russians and attempting to take control of Libyan oil and the deposits around Cyprus.

My speech was just a speech with my forecast, of no consequence beyond possibly letting senior officials start to think in terms of what was coming. But what it made me see is how much clearer the necessary course of history is from a distance. I could not know Erdogan’s next move. I could know that in due time a Turkish ruler would begin the process of expanding Turkish power. I also knew that the growth of power is not intended but develops from necessity. The United States did not intend in 1938 to occupy Western Europe. It came of small steps toward war, and small steps through the war. Empire falls to those who take care of their next step, and not to those who have dreams of greatness. The dreams come after the achievement.

Such is the case with Turkey. Caught between the Russian intervention in Syria and the long- running U.S. intervention in Iraq, Turkey sought to avoid being dragged into its ally’s war and did not attempt to block Russia when it knew it couldn’t. Turkey pursued an extremely cautious course, not allowing its forces to cross its borders in any significant way. Over time the region became more complex. Iran created an area of control to the Mediterranean, the Israelis attacked it, and the U.S. crippled its economy. The Russians engaged in some adventurism such as in Libya, where its presence was noted, although the weakness of this presence was generally ignored. The Americans railed about the S-400s but not to the extent of rupturing ties with Turkey or of giving up Incirlik air base. The Turks criticized the U.S. for supporting the Kurds in northern Syria. The regional system did not become peaceful but moved into gridlock.

Turkey needs oil that it can control. The Mediterranean would yield some in time, but Libya has it now. The gridlock in the region opened the door, and its need for energy compelled Turkey through the door in a move that should not have surprised me. It would not have surprised me in 10 years, but it did now. It was a move that tended toward reclaiming the Ottomans’ sea, and which opens the door to North Africa. Erdogan undoubtedly sensed the significance of what he was doing, but like any founder of an empire, his focus was on the next small move.

He may not ultimately succeed. The Russians do not want their proxies defeated. But the Russians also cannot afford to alienate Turkey, because Turkey can hurt Russia in the Caucasus, the Black Sea and even the Balkans. Plus, treaties or not, Russia needs the Bosporus. Is Libya worth a Russian rupture with Turkey? The United States is focused on undermining Iran in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and creating an internal crisis in Iran through successful sanctions. Turkey is hostile to the Syrian government and may be prepared to engage the Iranians. Greek and Israeli interests in the Mediterranean have to be secondary to dealing with Libya. Whatever the Russians or Americans say, the Turkish move does not threaten fundamental interests, and both want to be allied with Turkey.

The complexity can go on and on. I haven’t begun to talk about Israel and the Saudis, the Albanians and the Serbs, or Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Turkish move touches on all of these, some heavily, but for the most part, the cost of reversing the Turkish move seems higher than they are likely to play. There is also the question of actually getting troops to Libya and finding them bogged down in an endless war.

Turkey has announced its intentions, and it is likely going to carry them out. But then the complexity of being a great power will start to strike. For every successful move it will encounter complexity upon complexity. But I regarded Turkey as an emerging power precisely because the culture it inherited takes complexity for granted on the smallest things, as well as on great acts of statecraft. I have seen Turks analyze something I have said, extracting meanings I never had and relationships I never heard of. A good discussion with a Turk allows you to be surprised at yourself and left in complete doubt about him. From where I sit, the Turkish move was carefully planned, and while I hope our own intelligence agencies knew what was coming, I certainly didn’t, even though I spoke on it.

My job (self-appointed) is to create a method that allows you to sketch out the future. It is a hard job, and the pay is poor. The most difficult part of the job is getting listeners to distinguish between what you believe will happen and what you want to happen. Many times I have been viewed as an advocate rather than as a disinterested bystander. The danger is that I will be seduced not by a country but rather by my hunger to be right in my forecast. If I did that I would falsify my core thesis about history moving on its own. I am saved from this conundrum by the fact that I have no influence anywhere. But I do sometimes wind up close to an event that confirms my forecast, but to which I am blind at the moment.

by George Friedman – January 2, 2020 | Copyright © Geopolitical Futures. All rights reserved.


Category: International

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