‘The Next 100 Years’ May Not Bode Well for Armenia

Corporate Intelligence Guru George Friedman’s Latest Book Predicts Turkish Superpower

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—To personify the tone of George Friedman’s newest book of speculative geopolitics, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (Doubleday, 2009), I shall quote F.D.R. when he allegedly said of Nicaraguan despot and U.S. proxy Anastasio Somoza García: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

Likewise, I will say of Friedman that while I’d probably disagree with his personal social views if seated beside him at a dinner party, there was little in his book’s research or analysis that I—nor, I’m assuming, any charter member of the ANCA—would disagree with that staunchly.

Friedman is the chief executive of STRATFOR, the leading private global intelligence firm he founded in 1996. The son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors and raised in New York City, he spent almost 20 years in academia prior to joining the private sector, teaching political science at Dickinson College. During that time, he regularly briefed senior commanders in the armed services on security and national defense matters, as well as those in the Office of Net Assessments, the SHAPE Technical Center, the U.S. Army War College, the National Defense University and the RAND Corporation.

For all intents and purposes, I have honed my review to focus on Friedman’s predictions for Armenia, Turkey, and the Caucasus, although his general outline for a realistic 21st-century timeline is as ruthless and American-interest driven—never to be confused with the goals of true American values—as any State Department report I’ve ever perused.

Keenly, of all U.S. foreign policy decisions, Friedman writes with veritas that the U.S. “has no key interest in winning a war outright. As with Vietnam or Korea, the purpose of these conflicts is simply to block a power or destabilize the region, not to impose order. In due course, even outright American defeat is acceptable. However, the principle of using minimum force, when absolutely necessary, to maintain the Eurasian balance of power is—and will remain—the driving force of U.S. foreign policy throughout the 21st century. There will be numerous Kosovos and Iraqs in unanticipated places at unexpected times… But since the primary goal will more likely be simply to block or destabilize Serbia or al Qaeda, the interventions will be quite rational. They will never appear to really yield anything nearing a ‘solution,’ and will always be done with insufficient force to be decisive.”

In short, Friedman predicts that following the August 2008 war in Georgia, conflicts in the Caucasus will remain relatively stable until roughly 2020, at which point “Americans will see Russian domination of Georgia as undermining their position in the region. The Turks will see this as energizing the Armenians and returning the Russian army in force to their borders. The Russians will become more convinced of the need to act because of this resistance. A duel in the Caucasus will result… But it will be Europe [namely the Polish border and the Baltic states], not the Caucasus that will matter.”

He continues of this proposed conflict: “The Turks will make an unavoidable strategic decision around 2020. Relying on a chaotic buffer zone to protect themselves from the Russians is a bet they will not make again. This time they will move north into the Caucasus, as deeply as they need to in order to guarantee their national security in that direction… The immediate periphery of Turkey is going to be unstable, to say the least. The United States will encourage Turkey to press north in the Caucasus and will want Turkish influence in Muslim areas of the Balkans.”

In Friedman’s view, the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia can be postponed but is inevitable. And when it finally occurs, the Tashnag nightmare scenario—of the Armenian market being flooded with Turkish goods, and Turkey taking over all industrial sectors, leading to Armenian economic serfdom and client state status—will also be unavoidable.

The difference is that like a therapist objectively and impassively listening to someone’s problems, Friedman comments but doesn’t care about Armenia’s interests. He simply notes that such an outcome will be deemed by the U.S. to be in America’s interest, before the country makes adequate progress in transitioning to more sustainable “green” energy policies.

By 2040, Friedman writes, an Armenian, Greek, and pro-West anti-Turkish movement will begin to coalesce as the U.S. and Britain no longer regard Turkey as a friendly ally but as the rival superpower against the U.S. alongside a rejuvenated militant Japan.

“Turkey will move decisively northward into the Caucasus as Russia crumbles. Part of this move will consist of military intervention, and part will occur in the way of political alliances,” he writes. “Turkey’s influence will be economic—the rest of the region will need to align itself with the new economic power. And by the mid-2040’s, the Turks will indeed be a major regional power. There will be conflicts. From guerilla resistance to local conventional war, all around the Turkish pivot. Turkey will wind up pushing against U.S. allies in southeastern Europe and will make Italy feel extremely insecure with its growing power.”

In Friedman’s view, such a build-up will eventually lead to a limited-World War conflict between the U.S. and Poland against Turkey and Japan for divided world hegemony around 2050, with any actual ground combat occurring primarily in the vicinity of the Balkans and the Polish border areas surrounding U.S. and Turkish military targets.

Naturally it remains to be seen what will occur on the world stage, but like Groopman’s How Doctors Think (Mariner, 2008), Friedman’s Next 100 Years is as best an educated guess as anyone in the geopolitical analysis field can give, pending all variables—and that’s something.

Though to my chagrin, no travel agency will take reservations to Armenia for my personal Nuevo-Lincoln Brigade 38th and 68th Birthday Party Artsakh Liberation Extravaganza this far in advance. I checked.

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Andy Turpin

Andy Turpin has been the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly since 2006. He was raised in Palma City, Fla. His family is of Italian, Welsh and Armenized-Romani stock. He graduated from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., with degrees in history and journalism. Following graduation, he went to Armenia as an English as a Second Language (ESL) U.S. Peace Corp volunteer. He received his CELTA-ESL degree from Cambridge University in 2006.

8 Comments

  1. Andy, you write that “the Tashnag nightmare scenario—of the Armenian market being flooded with Turkish goods, and Turkey taking over all industrial sectors, leading to Armenian economic serfdom and client state status—will also be unavoidable”.

    However, this has already happened to Armenia at the hands of Mother Russia. Russia has killed 3 generations of Armenians already and yet it is continously ignored.

    As we speak, Russia and their minions in Yerevan are starving and killing the country. They are driving the rest into expatriation. They’ve crippled the Armenian soul and mind.

    Meanwhile, not a word on these pages of today’s slaughter. The Diaspora is focused 100 years in the past or 50 years into the future…on Turkey.

    What drives the Tashnag, really? Is it true concern for ‘Armenians’ or is it rather a self-identity of personal and ancestoral vegengance against the Turk?

    Any honest and objective perspective points to the latter. Ironically, this is another losing position. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Genocide survivors may stay connected through this identity, but it is not sustainable. As greed and corruption lose the Homeland, the Diaspora will fall apart as Great-great Grandchildren and beyond cease to have a real Armenian identity beyond simply hating Turkey.

  2. Friedman must do his homework more carefully, the last 150 years, turks have only lost land, while their political system cannot function without the West and USA (or Russia). Moreover, during these 150 years, there never was well formed Armenian, Greek, Syrian or Iranian states, while Russia was in the midst of two deadly revolutions. In the best scenario for Friedman’s turkic superpower, we need at least two centuries for the geopolitical landscape of the Euroasia changes in their favor, assuming that Armenians have the mentality of sheep, which is highly unlikely.
    Also, to reflect Ashot’s comments, we should look at the Russian dominion over Armenia as the actual practical test. Soviet influence migrated to South America, China, as well as other places far away from Russia, but a 3-4 million Armenian state persisted and remained Armenian. It’s not so simple to win against Mesrop Mashtoz, the only way to win Mashtoz is to kill the body and mind of the nation. The whole Europe, Russia and Turks have tried this for almost 300 years, and they have failed.
    Perhaps, Armenians are dorment now, but this sleep will not last long, they will be awaken soon…
    Concerning the Diaspora, it acts like a complex viro-biological entity, when it assimilates, it acts like a connector agent. It also has it’s awakening moments. So, I wouldn’t underestimate the potentials of Diaspora.

  3. To the previous comment:
    The issue with Turkey is that Turkey’s life would be much simpler if Armenia did not exist or if it was  reduced to the level of a puppet state. Turkey is not interested in strong, independent and, perhaps even friendly Armenia and in this respect the “nightmare scenario” may indeed turn into a nightmare for Armenia. The Russians are no angels but they are the best protection we have. Would love to see US or EU in this role but for some reason they are in no particular rush.

  4. I briefly read a section of the book concerning Armenia and while the author makes some valid predictions, he makes some obvious mistakes as well. He writes (p. 109) “Azerbaijan is hostile to Armenia – and therefore close to Iran and Turkey.” While Azerbaijan certainly is hostile and is allied with Turkey, the allusion that Azerbaijan and Iran have coinciding interests stands on weak pillars. Iran certainly does not want an emboldened Azerbaijan nor does it want Turkey to stick its nose in the affairs of the Caucasus, making it a reliable bulwark against further pan-Turkic expansion.
    Fascinating article, though.

  5. I agree partially with Ashod about Russia. They are a major player and small countries like Armenia are the pawns. I don’t believe there is any hope for Armenia. The country is in a permanently stalemated position. Worse yet, the people there mostly sold their souls to the Russians in return for the appearances of real country. When the Russians took off the training wheels so to speak, all of the paper republics, including Armenia, hit the ground hard. Based on the 1 million+ people who abandoned their beloved “Hayrenik” for places like Hollywood, I think that says it all about the Republic of Armenia and the qualities of its (former) citizens.
    As for Armenians who have lived for generations outside Armenia for many generations, I think that also speaks for itself. Unlike Armenia, there has been a certain level of stability that has lasted in those scattered communities for over a century. Obviously Ashod isn’t aware of this or is avoiding it altogether. Armenians, like Irish, Scottish, Jewish and a number of other people tend to function better in a decentralized system than in a formal state. Thats just the reality and the facts back it up.

  6. Actually, Friedman is like a so called “sailer” sailing his boat on a paper map. He may predict certain obvious things, but in order to go deeper, he needs to be actually sailing a real boat in a real ocean, because the last mast angle may determine whether he survives the storm or not.
    Go to Arstakh and Armenia and gather some real facts before predicting anything. Because, a single soldier’s last bullet may really change the whole scheme of the future.
    Concerning the claim of Armenians in Armenia “selling their soul”, please visit Armenia and talk with real Armenians and not those that are trying to sell their last tomato box for a few drams. I really pity the Armenians that have suffered so much in poverty, and I would not make such a careless claim about them “Selling their soul”. Have you ever suffered starvation, believe me, you will sell your soul and body if you had the experience. Did you know that Komitas did not understand one word of Armenian when he was brought to Echmiazin, would you say that he sold his soul. Believe me when I say that the key is Mashtoz, you cannot kill Mashtoz very easily, even if you entirely assimilate. Have you heard of such names as Hrachya Acharyan or Gevorg Jahugyan, etc. If not, then please learn more before making some claims.

  7. To Haro: Armenians easily killed Mashdots with their own hands – and spit on his grave while doing nationalistic talk like you. Gomidas spoke Turkish as his first language, and though he did a great service to Armenians, Armenians made his work irrelevant by ignoring it.  If you pity poor Armenians so much, get off the internet, get out of Yerevan and do something about it. As with Mashdots and Gomidas, you’re using the names of other people (including all of the poor people of Armenia) and actually ignoring those  people in the process.
    It sounds ridiculous but the most of the  people going into Armenia are Armenians born outside of that country.

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