The Accidental Superpower
The Accidental Superpower

The Accidental Superpower

The first were powers with navigable rivers that could easily extend their cultural reach up and down the river valley, enrich themselves with local trade, and use the resources of their larger footprint to protect themselves from—or force themselves upon—rivals. (Location 397)

The second were powers that lived on seas sufficiently enclosed that they were difficult to get lost within. These seas didn’t work quite as well as rivers, but they certainly blunted the dangers of the open ocean and allowed for regional transport and trade. France, Poland, Russia, and a few of the Chinese empires fell into the first category, while the Swedes, Danes, Phoenicians, and Japanese fell into the second. (Location 399)

all three enclosed bodies of water that the Ottomans were able to use their naval acumen to dominate. (Location 405)

the Ottomans had within easy reach more useful land, river, and sea than any other power—and nearly more than all of their European rivals combined. (Location 407)

Collectively the new technologies ended ocean shipping’s likelihood of being a near-death (or worse) experience. (Location 425)

But it wasn’t their poverty or history that induced them to turn the page of technological history. It was their location. (Location 458)

Suffer on as Europe’s laggards, or devise a means of changing the game. (Location 461)

Their application of that military power proved critical in undoing the Ottoman position. (Location 464)

Unlike geography, technology can move, and it keeps moving until it settles in a geography that can make the best use of it. (Location 480)

It should come as no surprise that in time the deepwater technologies diffused from the previously land-bound Iberians to a people who were already quite at home on the water. (Location 482)

The Thames provided all of the unification and local trade opportunities of Europe’s other rivers, but it empties into the North Sea, one of the world’s most dangerous bodies of water, frigid, tidal-extreme, and storm-wracked. (Location 487)

Deepwater navigation cracked the world open, launching the Age of Discovery, which in turn condensed the world both culturally and economically. (Location 506)

But they failed too. Just as with sedentary agriculture and deepwater navigation, a new suite of technologies changed the rules of how the world worked. Ironically, the technologies that ended English dominance were homegrown. (Location 513)

Unlike the Iberian monarchs, the English businessmen saw more in the wider world than just spices and precious metals. They also saw bottomless markets. The English system, therefore, didn’t seek (just) simple plunder, but also to develop a global trade system with England at the center. (Location 521)

civilization wouldn’t take root or flourish without being able to support a population of sufficient size. That largely eliminated desert, steppe, jungle, and mountain climates from approaching the degree of wealth and development that the Europeans had achieved. (Location 531)

in the very middle of the North European Plain. While Germany’s wealth potential is massive, German lands are inherently vulnerable. To the east is a nigh indefensible border with Poland, whose own eastern border is even less defensible. (Location 598)

Second, this man-in-the-middle position means that Germany has almost never been united. German rivers lead in different directions to different seas, making different cities look to different horizons for their economic well-being. (Location 606)

Whether you are producing wheat, textiles, or cars, distance is key in determining your levels of income; the greater your commercial reach, (Location 612)

the better you are at connecting your high supplies to someone else’s high demands. (Location 613)

Geography does more than simply shape balance-of-power struggles and the flavor of the local economy, it influences cultures as well. (Location 622)

that these hypercompetent cities often saw their destinies as lying beyond different horizons or even in concert with rival powers. (Location 633)

In the American colonies, this led to revolution. It nearly did in Germany too. The endless quantities of cheap, high-quality goods decimated the Germans’ painstakingly fostered cottage and guild industries. (Location 664)

Money accrued in the capital and was spent from the capital, so road and rail networks radiated from it too, metabolizing whatever resources lay beyond in a system of diminishing returns. (Location 670)

None were as powerful independently as London, but any ten of them surpassed the English core—and the Germans had forty regional cities. (Location 673)

The national government, needing to ensure that the various German regions remained knitted into a national whole, connected these hubs together into the world’s first true national rail network. (Location 675)

Money had to be husbanded with ruthless efficiency. (Location 678)

The industrialization of England took nearly 150 years. The industrialization of Germany was carried out in less than (Location 682)

Most European countries’ military application of industrial technologies focused on quantity: more guns, more uniforms, more transports. Only Germany truly embraced the fundamental newness of industrial technologies to remake how it waged war. (Location 683)

Finally, industrialization unified the Germans as a country and as a people to a degree unheard of elsewhere, before or since. (Location 694)

In Germany, however, the legitimacy gain wasn’t so much radically different, but exponentially faster and larger. (Location 699)

Germany’s defeat in the world wars had nothing to do with luck, but rather with the same interaction of geography and technology that caused the German rise in the first place, the English rise before that, and the Iberian rise before that. (Location 719)

was done diffusing. (Location 721)

With the fact that the Americans inherited the best lands in the world for a very low price in terms of blood, treasure, and time? (Location 727)

Americans from rival populations in Canada and Mexico? That the territory of the United States is better suited to deepwater navigation than even Great Britain and better suited to industrialization than even Germany? (Location 728)

There is another factor in play that all but dictates the United States’ global dominance: its waterway network. (Location 734)

The net effect of this Intracoastal Waterway is the equivalent of having a bonus three-thousand-mile-long river. (Location 743)

the American system is indeed a network. The Mississippi has six major navigable tributaries, most of which have several of their own. The greater Mississippi system empties into the Gulf of Mexico at a point where ships have direct access to the barrier island/Intracoastal system. (Location 745)

The result is that the United States has the greatest volume and concentration of capital-generation opportunities in the world by an absolutely massive margin, and that opportunity is very heavily concentrated in a single unified system. (Location 749)

When it comes to transport, distance is key. Low costs of transport allow goods to be shipped farther, and the more efficiently you can move goods from areas of high supply to areas of high demand, the greater the range at which your goods are competitive. (Location 753)

In most countries the geopolitical necessity of infrastructure is a core motivator for government formation and expansion, with (Location 759)

The rivers directly and indirectly eliminate many barriers to economic entry and keep development costs low. Even the early smallholders—pioneer families who owned and worked their own plots of land—found themselves able to export grain via America’s waterways within a matter of months of breaking ground. It’s a recipe for small government and high levels of (Location 761)

The American geography is also a recipe for a consumer base that is absolutely massive. (Location 767)

then tax burdens are low, leaving more money in the citizenry’s pockets. (Location 768)

If moving products from place to place is easy, food can reach areas that cannot provide enough themselves. It thus makes sense to specialize, and specialization steadily improves education, output, and income levels. (Location 770)

As of 2014, that consumer base amounts to roughly $11.5 trillion. That’s triple anyone else, larger than the consumer bases of the next six countries—Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Italy—combined, and double that of the combined BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). (Location 772)

The greater the level of specialization, the greater the need for that interaction (if your city produces cars, it probably needs to import steel, electronics, food, lumber, and so on). (Location 776)

The majority of the Lower 48 is within the temperate climate zone—warm enough for people to live and crops to grow, cool enough to limit populations of deadly, disease-carrying insects. The Rockies are a very serious mountain chain, but unlike the world’s other great mountains—the Alps, Himalayas, and Andes—they have six major passes with minimal avalanche dangers (so they can be kept open year round). (Location 785)

With 139 million hectares under till, it is the largest contiguous stretch of high-quality farmland in the world. (Location 797)

internal distribution options the United States enjoys means that for the bulk of its history American dependence upon the international trade system has been less than 15 percent of GDP. (Location 828)

the United States’ big chunk of high-productivity, high-capital land is also one of the most physically secure regions on the planet. (Location 832)

At the war’s conclusion, the United States seized half of Mexico’s territory (including California)—the half that was easier to get around (Location 842)

the Prairie provinces–Midwest border—connections are almost omnipresent. This is a bad deal not for the Americans, but rather for the Canadians. (Location 850)

As hard as it is to conceive of a credible military threat to the United States arising in North America, coming up with one from beyond the continent strains the imagination. (Location 880)

For countries like France or Germany or Russia that are perennially concerned about the security of their land borders, simply having an amphibious assault capacity—much less attempting an assault—is a luxury that they cannot typically afford. (Location 884)

If the British could hold Baltimore, the war’s other theaters would be rendered moot and the young America would be split into North, South, and interior. (Location 896)

By the beginning of their participation in World War II, the Americans had already secured all of the potential approaches that could be used for an assault on North America. (Location 915)

A fear that another regional power might one day be powerful enough to end them. In the past this has made them hostile to Japan (and friendly to the United States), and in the present this has made them hostile to China (and friendly to the United States). As of 2014 all—including Japan—are allies. (Location 923)

First and most obvious, it takes a huge population to duke it out with a country of over 300 million on its home territory. (Location 930)

theoretically attempt such a task are China, India, the combined European Union, and Russia. (Location 931)

Also required is the industrial might and technological command required to construct the ships and sail halfway around the world into a region in which the defender would be able to bring land-based defenses—most notably aircraft—to bear. (Location 933)

that the Americans have clashed with: Japan and the United Kingdom. (Location 935)

Third and finally, any would-be invader must have the strategic freedom to build an invasion fleet in the first place. (Location 937)

Even at the height of their power, the Soviets never had free forces sufficient to contemplate an invasion of England, much less North America. Again, this limits the list to two American allies: Japan and the United Kingdom. (Location 942)

extracontinental in reach requires a special constellation of factors and forces, and even with them in place it is just as hard as it sounds. (Location 944)

Resources didn’t need to be dedicated to an army, so they were available to instead flow into a navy. (Location 951)

The United States isn’t technically an island, but the inability of Canada or Mexico to threaten it by land makes it an island functionally. (Location 953)

Then there is the absolutely dominating factor of how large and perfectly positioned America’s waterways are. (Location 955)

The United States has more port potential than the rest of the world combined. (Location 960)

The entire Sub-Saharan region really only has four coastal areas capable of supporting cities of significant size (two of which are still in South Africa). (Location 972)

Why not expand port capacity? Because the United States has more port possibilities than it has ever needed, despite the fact that it has been the world’s largest producer, importer, and exporter of agricultural and manufactured goods for most of its history. (Location 980)

The American government knew that the Canadians were going to build the lock system anyway, because having some sort of transport system that allowed Quebec and Ontario to interact economically was a national imperative. (Location 997)

You pay for it and we get unrestricted access to the entire thing. In the end, the Canadians had to foot over 70 percent of the bill, pay almost all of the maintenance, (Location 1002)

The United States is the only country with significant populations on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, with nearly 50 million people on the Pacific and twice that on the Atlantic. So only the Americans have broad-scale access to both of the world’s great trading zones. This results in two outcomes. (Location 1006)

The Americans have sufficient infrastructure to enable their Pacific citizens to trade with Europe when Asia is in recession, or to allow their Atlantic citizens to trade with Asia when Europe is in recession. (Location 1011)

caused by international factors when the entire world goes into recession. (Location 1013)

era, but every recession the Americans have generated they have… exported. (Location 1014)

Industrializing is most definitely not easy. First, it wipes out nearly all preexisting economic activity and radically changes how a people interacts with itself and the outside world. (Location 1016)

America’s industrialization experience was less stressful and more successful than that of the rest of the world largely because American geography stands apart from the rest of the world. (Location 1022)

Germany had to have hypercompetent local governments because those local governments didn’t have good physical connections to Berlin, and even the handful of communities that were physically close enough couldn’t count on it for much help in the first place: (Location 1025)

Germans needed always to be on their toes because they lived on disconnected pieces of smallish land and were duking it out with large and capable neighbors who were far more advanced culturally, economically, politically, and militarily. Not so with the Americans. (Location 1031)

In the United States barriers to entry were laughably small. A Conestoga wagon with six months of supplies could be purchased in inflation-indexed dollars for about the price of a modern-day Kia (about $11,000). (Location 1036)

cross, and the Mexican-American War established one of the world’s largest buffer zones. (Location 1039)

So while the Germans had to make the most of every worker and deutschmark, the Americans were so swimming in the land, labor, and capital that made the industrial age possible that they didn’t need to worry… or plan. (Location 1042)

For the Americans, artificial infrastructure was a luxury that they could do without rather than an expensive prerequisite for national coherence. (Location 1053)

Instead of the painstaking micromanagement of Germany, American development happened organically. Farmers in an area grew the same products and so had the same needs: tools they couldn’t build themselves, docks and boats to ship their grain, schools to educate their children, banks to deposit their earnings. (Location 1060)

Far lower development costs and a complete lack of local strategic threats put drastically lower pressure upon that capital. Simply put, the Americans have the world’s highest capital base, yet among the lowest need for that capital. (Location 1084)

Instead the Americans allowed the market to take the capital to wherever it wanted. (Location 1087)

From the Louisiana Purchase onward, the Americans have boasted the world’s most capital-rich geography. (Location 1096)

But more to the point, America’s “problem” is that it is the land of plenty. It is the world’s largest agricultural, technological, financial, and, based on how you collate the data, industrial power—and has been all of those things for fifteen decades. (Location 1099)

that the United States does not have to be at its best to be better than everyone else. (Location 1101)

Even if you ignore the portions of American territory that are less than ideal, population density in the United States is only 180 people per square mile, one-third that of Italy or Germany, one-quarter that of the United Kingdom, and one-fifth that of Japan. (Location 1109)

but also applied all of the technologies that the Europeans had developed over the past two centuries to the entirety of the American lands. (Location 1120)

By the end of Reconstruction the United States had reemerged as the world’s largest economy, its largest market, its largest grower of wheat and corn, its largest producer of steel. With their country finally secured, developed, and unified, the Americans traded in their “manifest destiny” for something greater. (Location 1124)

They use their superior mobility to choose the time and place of conflicts. (Location 1127)

But the United States is different from its maritime predecessors in two critical ways: insulation and (Location 1130)

those nations have always had to keep an eye out for countries or coalitions that might be able to challenge their position. (Location 1134)

In contrast, no one has attempted even a partial invasion of American territories since 1815. Even the global geopolitics at the time of the 1890s American emergence was benign. (Location 1136)

Most maritime powers are countries that possess relatively modest territories, like the islands of Great Britain or Honshu, chunks of land slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Michigan. (Location 1139)

they have no choice but to expand into empire. In contrast, the United States has the better part of a continent to draw upon. Self-sufficient in everything that matters from energy to markets, they ventured out as a peer power without peer exposures. (Location 1142)

offensively relentless and strategically insensitive to defeat. (Location 1144)

If Britain lost its empire, it was reduced to secondary-power status. (Location 1145)

disputed territories so that the Russians and Japanese not only had hopelessly entangled economic interests, but also something that Russia and Japan had never had before: a land border. The peace deal guaranteed future military conflict. (Location 1161)

but ensured that Germany would be able to rebuild and rearm. (Location 1169)

War. In doing so the Americans did more than determine the course of a global military conflict; they shaped the entirety of the world in which we now live. That reshaping did the oddest thing. (Location 1180)

America’s physical place in the world is not just benign, but empowering. (Location 1191)

the American margin for error is absolutely massive. (Location 1192)

In most countries, suspect leadership is often rewarded with national destruction. By contrast, the United States is so huge and so far removed from the world and has such deep reserves of national power that highly questionable or even failed policies can lead to a second term. (Location 1194)

And when they do have a plan—good or bad—the world is remade. (Location 1197)

Not only could the United States put a number of men into the field that dwarfed Western European capabilities, but it could also equip them and provide matériel for its British and Soviet allies and overcome the German U-boat strategy by sheer mass while fighting another war in another theater. (Location 1209)

America’s core territories were never under direct threat, so the Americans did not need to focus resources on defense. (Location 1211)

but that the Axis held on for three years after raising America’s ire. (Location 1215)

The Americans had lost “only” 420,000 people, in relative terms one-thirty-fifth the German losses and one-forty-fifth the Soviet losses. (Location 1218)

Americans had forces—on friendly terms—in the United Kingdom, West Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, (Location 1220)

There was little industrial capacity outside of the United States. (Location 1223)

but running at full throttle on matériel and capital provided almost exclusively by the Americans. Only the Soviets had an independent (Location 1224)

but the war had been so destructive that it had taken as well the bulk of the imperial militaries. (Location 1227)

On the war’s final day only six years later the Americans had a 6,800-vessel navy with over 1,000 major surface and submarine combatants. As important, the navies of every major naval combatant of every significant prewar power had been relocated to the seabed. (Location 1231)

For the first time since the onset of the blue-water era in the early sixteenth century, there was only one navy on the oceans. (Location 1233)

One obvious option was to absorb the Axis and Western European empires into itself and establish a Pax Americana over the global system. (Location 1235)

After all, it was what they had been doing to each other and all parts of the world within their reach for the entirety of the deepwater era. (Location 1237)

It wasn’t so much a moral distinction as a practical one. (Location 1238)

occupation doesn’t play to American strengths. (Location 1239)

Put another way, it means fighting a wide-ranging, manpower-heavy, low-intensity war of occupation. (Location 1241)

Maritime powers favor highly mobile units that zip about, bringing superior firepower to discrete conflict zones, (Location 1242)

Their mobility advantages would be surrendered.2 The tactics (Location 1245)

As of 1946, it was obvious that a cold war with the Soviets was already under way. The Soviet military was not only numerically larger, but clear and extremely present across the bulk of northern Eurasia. (Location 1246)

That meant that the Americans wouldn’t just need a few million men to keep the British and French and Italians and Germans and Dutch and Arabs and Persians and Indians and Indonesians and Taiwanese and Japanese and Chinese and Koreans and Filipinos in line, but that Washington would also (Location 1249)

the Soviet/Russian military was built expressly for occupation. Russia has no geographic barriers at its borders. Gaining security comes from a simple, two-pronged strategy: occupying everyone nearby to secure strategic buffers, and establishing an intrusive intelligence service to infiltrate the occupied populations in order to keep them docile. (Location 1254)

Specifically, it requires a hell of a bribe. And what the Americans came up with was one of the great strategic gambits in history. (Location 1263)

The American market was the only consumer market of size that had even a ghost of a chance of surviving the war, making it the only market worth seeking. (Location 1271)

No one needed a navy any longer. (Location 1278)

As a final sweetener, the Americans promised to protect all members of the network from the Soviets. This included everything right up to the nuclear umbrella. (Location 1279)

There really was no choice: Partner with the only possible consumer market, the only possible capital source, and the only possible guarantor of security—or disappear behind the Iron Curtain. (Location 1283)

Germany wanted the agricultural output of Poland, the capital of the Low Countries, the coal of Central Europe, and the markets of France. Japan coveted the manpower and markets of China and the resources of Southeast Asia. (Location 1288)

Americans were offering them economic access far beyond their wildest prewar longings: risk-free access to ample resources and bottomless markets a half a world away. And “all” it would cost them was accepting a security guarantee that was better than anything they could ever have achieved by themselves. (Location 1290)

The Soviets had plenty of Pacific coastline, but the only good ports they had access to were Chinese locales like Tianjin and Hainan Island. (Location 1304)

The Chinese knew that as a maritime power the Americans would eventually lose interest and go home, but in 1969 the Chinese had skirmished with their Soviet “allies” along the Ussuri River. (Location 1307)

Chinese human-wave tactics would be met by Soviet human-wave tactics—only the Soviet waves would also have tanks and aircraft. Unless the Chinese could also change the strategic math, they faced a war on their northern border that they could not hope to win. (Location 1310)

Washington’s reciprocation was accompanied by an end to the trade embargo. (Location 1318)

an eclectic variety of extraordinarily poor allies, such as Cuba, Yemen, Mozambique, North Korea, and Syria, scattered around the world and whose loyalty the Soviets had to secure with occupying forces or purchase with subsidies. (Location 1326)

some of the Europeans otherwise took a little doing. As the premier prewar maritime powers, the British and French proved the most in need of attitude adjustments. (Location 1334)

The Americans didn’t take any of them over, because it didn’t need them. Its goal was to break the European hold over the world and make the European powers dependent upon the Bretton Woods system. (Location 1338)

Second, as the security guarantor of their alliance network, the Americans had to, well, guarantee the security of the alliance network. (Location 1341)

That meant that the Americans had to abandon many of the strategic advantages of being a maritime power, the biggest of which is the ability to choose the time and place of combat. (Location 1343)

The Americans’ new grand strategy transformed them from a nimble, offensive power into a reactionary power forced to make large, static deployments in a manner of land powers. (Location 1350)

Quite intentionally, the American system suspended local geopolitical competitions, relieving (Location 1354)

That freed America’s allies from the need to defend against age-old rivals, many of whom were now allies. A few examples: (Location 1356)

What we now think of as the developed world forgot what it meant to be in want, and broad swaths of territories that had never been able to incorporate into modern states were able to do so once the threat of European and Japanese imperialism disappeared. (Location 1368)

Many players—Germany, Korea, the two Chinas, Ireland, and Singapore, to name a few—did more than use Bretton Woods to simply export their way to stability. (Location 1371)

These places, and many more, are now dependent upon the continuation of the current system for their economic wherewithal. (Location 1373)

Most lack the ability to patrol much more than their own coastlines, if even that. (Location 1375)

It is the country that designed, imposed, and now sustains that system. (Location 1378)

only 11 percent of U.S. GDP comes from exports. (Location 1381)

the American isolation is due to the extreme opportunities it enjoys at home. Its internal size and local connectivity are simply unparalleled. (Location 1383)

The commitment to that system has been steadily falling for some time. The efforts of three post–Cold War American presidents—Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—highlight an ever-so-steady shift away from support for expanding the free trade network: (Location 1386)

And most of all, the countries that have chosen to specialize in exports turned the American trade deficit into a $700 (Location 1396)

But the Americans are no longer gaining a strategic benefit from that network, even as the economic cost continues. (Location 1402)

now—the Americans are going to reprioritize, and the tenets of Bretton Woods, the foundation of the free trade order, will simply (Location 1403)

Just as geopolitics tells us that the free trade era is closing, demography tells us that the era of consumption-driven growth that has been the economic norm for seventy years is coming to an unceremonious end. (Location 1425)

Put more simply, industrialization leads to plummeting birth rates. (Location 1438)

The sprawled-out Americans didn’t hit majority urbanization until about 1920, and even today the United States remains the least urbanized of the major nations. (Location 1442)

and workers’ savings determine financial strength, not all workers are created equal. Once your country industrializes, the difference that matters isn’t race or ethnicity or (gasp) even geography, but rather (Location 1445)

They are expensive and they give nothing back whatsoever. (Location 1448)

The third group are the mature workers. For this group the hard stuff is behind them. The kids have moved out. The house is largely paid for. (Location 1456)

These mature workers are as capital-rich as the younger generation are capital-poor. A very large chunk of this extra capital ends up being invested for various purposes, most notably to prepare for retirement. (Location 1461)

Volatility is fine because they are taking the long view, and their continual savings mean that most market crashes are simply opportunities to buy up cheap assets that will later rise in value. (Location 1464)

They cannot stomach reductions in principal value because they cannot make up for any losses with new income. (Location 1471)

Stocks and dynamism are out. Government bonds and CDs are (Location 1473)

but that their accrued investments also shrink as time goes on. (Location 1475)

There aren’t all that many mature workers generating capital, while a large volume of younger workers are demanding it. (Location 1483)

which the cost of credit is fairly high, whether that credit be sought for a car loan or stealth bomber. In such systems there are constant restrictions on growth, but nearly all of them can be traced back to (Location 1484)

but they are spending more on themselves and less on their children (because they have fewer of them). That means not just fewer diapers and scooters, but also lower government outlays on education—the top line item for each and every state budget in the United States. (Location 1492)

What is needed is heavy research into technologies that improve the ability of the old to work, rather than the ability of the old to live. (Location 1610)

The current setup aims to maximize years lived, and as such encourages (high-cost) convalescence rather than (high-income) productivity. (Location 1612)

Convincing young people to have kids when they don’t want them is not easy. Raising a child is one of the most expensive things that a young adult can do. Children carry with them the ultimate opportunity costs: day care instead of cars, diapers instead of trips, heartache instead of job advancement. What few countries have peered ahead and realized the (Location 1619)

onto the street to join Russia’s million-strong population of street children—at best the Russian program was a wash. (Location 1628)

If a young woman applies for a job, the employer must expect that she will be taking years of time off. That employer will nevertheless be legally required to keep her job open and to pay for years of maternity leave. The expected happens. Young Swedish women suffer from the highest unemployment and underemployment rates among the advanced countries, and Swedish women overall are far less likely to advance into the top ranks in management, corporations, universities, or even government sectors than their Western peers. (Location 1637)

Every dollar spent on such procedures that keep treasured relatives alive is one less dollar that can be used for education or roads. In needing a better solution to this problem Japan is (Location 1649)

Even if Japan dedicated itself to a nationwide breeding campaign today, it would not reap the financial benefits of a more normalized demography until 2075. Why would it take so long? Healing a demographic (Location 1652)

Consequently, the shift toward fewer children in the United States was both delayed and not as intense, resulting in a younger demographic more capable of reversing demographic decline (for example, it is much more feasible for American thirty-somethings to raise kids than Japanese or German fifty-somethings). (Location 1668)

As a settler society, the United States is one of very few countries where the concepts of nationality and government are not inextricably linked. Let me spell that out a bit. In most countries the dominant ethnic group originated in a (Location 1671)

Regarding immigration, the impact of these different approaches to managing geography is night-and-day. In a traditional state anyone from the outside is seen as, well, an outsider. (Location 1682)

Third and by far the most important is that the American generational tightening lasts for only one generation. Behind Gen X is Gen Y, the Boomers’ kids. As you might expect from the kids of the country’s largest ever generation, there are a lot of them—35 percent more than the Xers. Because of these factors, the United States’ financial/demographic situation will repair itself with surprising speed (by demographic standards). (Location 1690)

In 2030, the oldest members of Gen Y will be fifty, an age when they will start to seriously take over as large-scale contributors to the country’s capital stock. Their numbers will allow them to do what the Xers could not: sufficiently fund the system. (Location 1699)

After 2030, the Americans will have moved through “painful” and be merely at “uncomfortable,” and things (Location 1704)

will be improving by the year. By 2040, nearly all of the Boomers will have passed on, and all of Gen Y will be in the prime of their taxpaying lives. The Americans will have their financial feet firmly back under them. (Location 1705)

The United States is the only developed country to boast a widening generation like Gen Y. Throughout the rest of the developed world the Boomer equivalents simply didn’t have many kids—not even enough to replace their own numbers. (Location 1707)

for the rest of the world 2030 will simply be another year of an ever-deepening imbalance between retirees and taxpayers, with smaller and smaller generations coming up the ranks generating less and less growth. (Location 1709)

chronic capital poverty and permanent recession (Location 1711)

that of disconnecting the Americans. (Location 1715)

In the post–World War II era it has been the American market that has always been far and away the largest, and even in the most egregiously optimistic estimates for Europe and the BRICs it will remain so for at least the next twenty years. (Location 1716)

Within a decade it isn’t so much that the American market will be the largest one in the world, but that aging demographics will have capped—and in most cases reversed—consumer market growth in Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Italy, Canada, Spain, Russia, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, Austria, Greece, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, and Finland. (Location 1718)

but it also includes most of the countries that the Americans created Bretton Woods for in the first place. (Location 1721)

and as early as 2030 the United States will emerge as the only country that is capital-rich, the only country with a growing economy, and the only country with a growing market. And all this without any conscious demographic policy on the part of the Americans. (Location 1724)

Since almost none of the American allies were energy exporters, protecting energy flows from the points of production to the points of consumption was part of the deal. The (Location 2064)

The Americans are backing away from Bretton Woods, the global demographic is inverting, and shale is paring back the single most energetic American connection to the wider world all at the same time. Any of these factors alone would shake the global system to its core. Together they will upend it completely. (Location 2068)

any country can access markets the world over without needing to guard any aspect of its supply chains—and in most cases, even its borders. What had been possible only for the major empires of the past can now be the core strategy for countries as diverse—and traditionally weak—as Uruguay, Korea, Honduras, Tunisia, and Cambodia. (Location 2077)

Centuries of technological advances have created possibilities where few or none existed before. At their most basic, technologies allow people, if sufficiently armed with capital, to partially overcome their local geography and make it productive. The more difficult that geography—whether it be jungle, mountain, swamp, taiga, or desert—the more expensive (Location 2082)

Money was tight. Credit—if it existed—was expensive. The world changed slowly. The development line—the point where an integrated economic and political system gives way to the frontier or, considering the Hobbesian nature of fifteenth-century Europe, the front lines—was pretty damn close to home. (Location 2097)

China’s ability to tap global markets—for imports, exports, and capital—has allowed it to expand into a great industrial power. (Location 2180)

things are actually going to get weirder before they shift back to something closer to historical norms. (Location 2196)

The early wave of Boomer retirements doesn’t signal capital scarcity, but rather its opposite: extreme capital richness. The world won’t flip until the majority of the 200 million developed-world (Location 2204)

Aging demographies will sharply and suddenly contract credit availability to a level that has not been witnessed since the 1970s—in the best case. (Location 2221)

But while economies will contract, government’s role in them will increase. The unrelenting surge of people in their sixties will drastically increase government outlays on health care and pensions, even as the sudden dearth of people in their fifties will drastically lower governments’ tax take. At the same time, the rising need of governments to borrow combined with the lesser supply of capital to lend will drive government financing rates ever higher. (Location 2224)

developed world will leave droves of firms and workers in both the developed and developing world destitute. (Location 2237)

Between higher capital costs and higher insurance costs, only the lower-cost producers will have a relatively secure place in the market, and that assumes that either they or their clients are able to guarantee passage. (Location 2240)

The mix of local political stability, local supply, and local demand will prove the magic mix to uncouple North American oil prices from global pricing patterns, much in the way that the early years of the shale revolution did the same for natural gas prices. (Location 2243)

For countries like China, which are dependent upon exports to the American market, the pain will be direct and permanent. Others—Central Europe comes to mind—will suffer from the withdrawal of American military support. Others will have different sorts of dependencies, many of which will be overlapping. (Location 2245)

American withdrawal from its guarantor role will simultaneously trigger economic and energy crises for Europe, East Asia, and South Asia and financial and security crises for the Persian Gulf states. (Location 2256)

Now it will. Countries far removed from supplies of food, energy, and/or the basic matrix of inputs that make the industrialized world possible will face the stark choice of either throwing themselves at the mercy of superior local powers or throwing what force they can muster at the resource providers. (Location 2262)

Wars of opportunism will come back into fashion. History will restart. Areas that we have come to think of as calm will seethe as countries struggle for resources, capital, and markets. For countries unable to secure supplies (regardless of means), there is a more than minor possibility that they will simply fall out of the modern world altogether. (Location 2265)

One of the few constants through human history is that when a resource—whether it be mineral, agricultural, labor, financial, or market—is in short supply, enterprising, capable, creative countries will go to great lengths to seize what they can for themselves. (Location 2278)

Much of the green revolution was about making marginal lands—the “moderate difficulty lands” category—bloom. (Location 2287)

allowed vast regions of the world to become agriculturally productive. Bretton Woods enabled the industrial revolution’s agricultural applications to spread to the developing world, allowing the global population to quadruple during the twentieth century. (Location 2288)

But maintaining that population, to say nothing of growth, is impossible for most locations unless those inputs continue to be applied. The green revolution made deserts bloom and tropics productive, but those gains will only remain if the irrigation systems continue to irrigate and fertilizers remain on hand. Remove Bretton Woods, remove the Boomer capital surge, and everything about the green revolution and the populations it has created is cast into doubt. (Location 2291)

But America’s population is aging far more slowly than that of its competitors. At the time of this writing, the average American is already younger than his Australian, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, British, Russian, Spanish, and Polish counterparts. By 2020—just five years after this book’s publication—he will also be younger than the average Chinese. (Location 2298)

American market will be the only significant market to grow year-over-year throughout the period. But even if the American market plateaus—or, God forbid, shrinks a little—it will still represent the largest market in the world by a factor of three. (Location 2301)

Cheap land and cheap power don’t simply mean more development, more industry, and a larger and more stable consumption base, they are also the magic elixir that allows young families to thrive. Family formation rates the world over are highest when the basics of life—housing, food, and power—are affordable and reliable. They will be most affordable, most accessible, and most reliable in the United States. (Location 2308)

The low-tariff world allowed manufacturing processes to use parts sourced from quite literally hundreds of different providers assembled at dozens of facilities. This is being undone at every level. Labor costs have increased by a factor of six in China in just ten years, sending manufacturers who used to see China as the promised land away in droves. Many are relocating much closer to their preferred American end market, with Mexico being a hot favorite. (Location 2318)

And new technologies like 3-D printing allow for the fabrication in a single run of complex components that used to be made of a dozen or more simpler parts. (Location 2322)

Most hurt will be those economies less able to move up the value-added chain to justify their participation in such simpler—if technically more involved—processes: China, Cambodia, Peru, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ukraine, and Vietnam. (Location 2326)

The only pressing need for the Americans to go beyond their shores will be to guarantee their own shipping, and with evolving technologies like shale and 3-D printing, shipping is already accounting for a shrinking, not growing, percentage of American GDP. (Location 2329)

The United States is the world’s largest agricultural exporter by a sizable margin, and Canada is no slouch. Due to the Midwest and the Canadian Prairies, the United States has all the grains it could possibly need. Due to California’s Central Valley, Florida, and Mexico, it will even be able to produce sufficient supplies for most noncritical foodstuffs like citrus and vegetables. So while a global free-for-all may endanger American imports of exotic products like out-of-season avocados, Americans will actually be fairly comfortable compared to everyone else. (Location 2333)

In the world to come, Americans won’t have much need for the rest of the world. And what needs they do have will be largely divorced from what they perceived as important in the period of 1946 through 2014. Without global needs or global interests, there is no reason to impose a global order. (Location 2341)

America’s primary means of interaction with the international community will be via its special forces and long-arm navy, which will use fast, discrete attacks to eliminate perceived threats or disrupt governments sufficiently unwise to attract the wrong kind of American attention. (Location 2348)

Since nearly everything that matters to the United States will be firmly anchored in North America, the Americans will return to the role that they played before World War II: a global power without global interests. (Location 2352)

Unfortunately for anyone hoping to plan around American actions, the criteria for “when it sees fit” will not just be vague, but maddeningly mutable. (Location 2357)

is actually the best-case scenario because it assumes that American interest in the wider world will continue to wane at a slow pace. It assumes that most countries will have at least a few years to adjust to changing circumstances. (Location 2362)

The formative period for American culture was the pioneer era. Consider the time frame: (Location 2365)

What happens when the Americans suffer a stinging, public setback? What happens when the rest of the world reaches out and touches Americans on terms other than America’s? (Location 2376)

And then they fight back with everything they have. Were the United States a small country such overreactions would be odd, perhaps even comical. But the United States is the global superpower and its overreactions typically reshape both itself and the wider world. (Location 2379)

America’s insulation from the wider world, and above all the United States’ trademark unpredictability, picking out precisely what will cause the Americans to pull the plug on the free trade era is an exercise in wild-eyed futility. (Location 2404)

countries will have to petition the Americans on a bilateral basis to get the market access, capital, technology, or protection that they will so desperately need. The trick for would-be allies will be to find something shiny that will catch American attention. (Location 2491)

Venezuelan crude is so viscous and thick with contaminants that only a handful of refineries anywhere in the world can process the stuff. Almost all of those refineries are on the Gulf Coast of the United States. (Location 2539)

The pair are also so physically removed from the Asian mainland that the defense commitment required to maintain their sovereignty would be minimal. American involvement in Australasia would also solve—at least partly—Singapore’s problem. (Location 2632)

Finally, collectively the Southeast Asian region represents a market for American goods of over a half billion people—that’s one larger than the Chinese coast and far, far less politically complicated. (Location 2649)

Dealing with the aftermath will require admitting Saudi Arabia’s fundamental weakness: It doesn’t have an indigenous workforce. (Location 2943)

hire outsiders to do all their work for them, massively expand their population under the aegis of a generous welfare state, and in general become impressively lazy and gloriously fat. (Location 2944)

most notably an industrial base or a tax base. They have no navy to speak of, much less one that could guarantee the security of their exports and by extension their income. They also lack a (meaningful) (Location 2949)

Without an external sponsor or an army, the Saudis’ entire defense strategy relies upon the Arabian Desert being too harsh a barrier to cross. In the industrial age, that doesn’t count for as much as it used to. (Location 2964)

China might want to become Saudi Arabia’s new protector—or new overlord—but it lacks the military capacity and geographic proximity to try. (Location 2972)

Which brings us to U.S. foreign policy. To say that there is bad blood between the two countries is an exercise in understatement, but consider the strategic context. Iran’s territory is mostly (Location 3165)

years. Forget terrorism. Forget Israel. Forget the hostage crisis. In the Bretton Woods era, oil security is the foundation of everything from NATO to ANZUS; the United States uses energy to guarantee trade, and trade to guarantee its security alliance. If Iran were either to conquer the Arab oil states or close the Gulf, the free trade order would quite literally run out of fuel. (Location 3175)

That power could never be Iran. Iran is a mountain country. That means, among other things, that it has no navigable rivers, no tradition of watercraft, and lacks the facilities, expertise, and capital needed to float a navy. If against all odds it somehow could, the Iranian navy—and the entirety of the Iranian economy—would be bottled up (Location 3183)

For anyone else in Iran’s broader neighborhood, Iran’s position is a nightmare. While mountain states are typically neither rich nor naval, they are also damnably difficult to invade. (Location 3192)

The closest energy lies in northern Iraq, an area populated by Kurds whom the Turks have always feared will stir up problems among Turkey’s own Kurdish citizens. (Location 3233)

The American departure means that Iran is being released to engage not one but four regional powers in a general melee. That melee is the unspoken goal of American foreign policy: to ensure that all of the world’s other major powers are preoccupied with each other rather than thinking of putting to sea. (Location 3240)

the Europeans no longer needed to struggle for iron ore or steel or oil or food or spices or markets or borders. Instead of battling to be the NEP colossus, France and (West) Germany could cooperate economically and focus on exporting to wider Europe and the wider world. (Location 3283)

In 1992 the Europeans may have committed themselves to launching the euro era, but they never united their disparate financial and banking systems into a cohesive whole. That split is the root of the European financial crisis. (Location 3302)

The EU is likely to devolve—in the best-case scenario—into more of a glorified free trade zone, but not one with any pretensions to a common foreign or security policy. As (Location 3501)

Russia’s demographics are so horrid that if it fails to act before 2022, it will lose the capacity to act both militarily and economically. (Location 3506)

At some point around 1965, Canadians apparently forgot how to have kids, and their demography has been slowly hollowing out ever since. (Location 3673)

That means that they have to save up for plane or boat passage, unlike Mexicans and Central Americans, who can cross the American border, quite literally, as soon as they are able to waddle. (Location 3678)

giving would-be Americans ample time to pay into the American system before collecting pensions. In some places—the California-Mexico border outside of San Diego, for example—the concept of walking across borders is so prevalent that there are signs for it. As such, Canada is a state (Location 3681)

Its capital structure is about to flip from one of the world’s most capital-rich to one of the world’s most capital-poor at the same time that the country shifts from having fairly moderate retiree needs to among the world’s most massive. (Location 3689)

aging means that its consumer base isn’t in Canada but rather in the United States. After 150 years of infrastructure construction, the Canadians are now fully hardwired into the American system, just in time for their own domestic consumption to plunge. Simply put, Canada does not need to sustain a large internal (Location 3702)

As Canadians age—and the Americans age not so much—this relationship will become more lopsided, tighter, and more essential to Canadian well-being. (Location 3705)

In the new world, the Americans are highly likely on occasion to waltz over into foreign lands and wreck a few things. That is not only something that the Canadians do not need to worry about affecting them directly, but they do not even have to worry about it affecting them indirectly. (Location 3707)

The country’s founders realized that the sort of unitary government that exists in France or Russia could never work in Canada. The citizens of Halifax simply had so few points of contact in their (Location 3716)

Now, 240 years after the conquest of Quebec and 140 years after the British Empire granted Canada its independence, confederalism and provincial supremacy are inseparable strands of Canadian political life. Canadian courts have ruled that Canada’s provinces (Location 3726)

Quebec controls all of the non-U.S. transport connections between Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, and the Atlantic basin. To avoid destitution, the Maritime provinces would have no choice but to seek accession to the United States, and rump Canada would still be fractured into three pieces that have little to do with one another. The possibility of Quebecois separatism has long been a real and present danger to the very existence of the Canadian state. (Location 3735)

in essence bribing Quebec to remain part of united Canada. It was an expensive solution, but manageable. (Location 3741)

Ontario so ingrained in the system that industrial and corporate activity have vacated Quebec en masse. (Location 3743)

It had to go through the motions of actually seceding. Part of this process involved not just the independence referenda, but also nudging the national government to prepare for such independence, ergo the Supreme Court ruling on the topic’s constitutionality. (Location 3749)

That will drastically reduce the Canadian national government’s ability to source compact money from Ontario. Making matters worse, Quebec’s populace is actually getting older faster than Ontario’s, so the cost of the compact is likely to increase in the years to come. (Location 3761)

The Albertan energy boom is now well into its second decade. It has proven so successful and so deep that Alberta now enjoys the second highest income of any province anywhere in the Western world. (Location 3767)

Alberta is the anti-Canada. Largely because of the province’s exploding energy sector, it is attracting masses of young people from across Canada (and the world), actually reducing the province’s average age even as it raises the labor pool’s skill levels. (Location 3772)

As Canada ages, its currency strengthens. Mature workers—to say nothing of retirees—consume less. However, mature workers tend to be more productive than young workers. Lower consumption plus higher output results in higher exports. (Location 3779)

And it gets worse. America’s shale revolution is drastically increasing American oil output, but not in a geographically dispersed way. Nearly all of the producing shale fields are east of the Rockies and west of the Appalachians. (Location 3789)

In the case of oil, there is typically a $10–$15 per barrel spread between the American interior and the Gulf coast. (Location 3791)

Put simply, Alberta is selling its energy into the United States’ most saturated and most competitive market, forcing it to be sold at a discount of $20 to $40 a barrel compared to the international average. (Location 3794)

Chinese political development manifested less out of a need to manage food surpluses and expand populations than out of a need to manage the ravages of the Yellow River. (Location 4215)

A single flood in 1931 killed more than a million people. (Location 4226)

such a way that they can be hurled at engineering problems. Failure to maintain such organizational control at all times means that something as innocuous as a hard rain could literally wash Chinese civilization away. (Location 4227)

Economically, the result is a system with little trade and even less technological innovation. (Location 4255)

Politically, the result is a system in which local authorities exercise autonomy so great that it risks bringing the system down. Even once a Chinese leader succeeds in rising to the top of his local heap—or even commanding the entirety of (Location 4262)

Once the north is mostly on the same page, attention invariably turns to central China. (Location 4268)

Given the choice, Shanghai and the rest of its riverine region tend to look beyond northern China to more developed parts of the world, whether that means Taipei, Tokyo, London, or San Francisco. (Location 4277)

Southern China’s excellent harbors back directly into rugged highlands. Just as that rugged territory limits northern penetration or southern consolidation, it also limits the ability of any local southern power to look to the sea—they just can’t reach the coast easily. (Location 4312)

That’s a lot to take in, but the real surprise of China is that the north, center, and south account for but half of China’s 1.35 billion people. North, center, and south are China’s lowland and coastal regions. The rest of the Chinese actually live in the interior. (Location 4324)

All of the critical military branches of government are headquartered in the north, (Location 4346)

that it is united. I’m not talking here about the concept of the mainland versus Taiwan (Red China versus White China), but rather the idea that the mainland itself can ever truly be a unified entity. (Location 4349)

Its different regions want different things and access the world on different terms, if they want access to the world at all. Making matters worse, the outside world accesses different parts (Location 4356)

First, it was the Americans who removed Japan as a threat. Japan and China had been locked in a bilateral war for nearly five years before the Americans joined World War (Location 4386)

In a stroke, the Americans had not so much ended Japanese imperialism as removed any rationale Japan might have had to be imperialist in the first place. (Location 4399)

Second, World War II’s conclusion radically changed the region’s naval balance of power. By war’s end, the Americans had wiped the Pacific clean of Japanese forces, but that was only one piece of the puzzle. (Location 4402)

Moreover, the Americans’ imposition of Bretton Woods upon Europe meant that the Europeans no longer had an interest in even trying. (Location 4413)

The American-crafted strategic environment, most notably the Bretton Woods element of it, created the best of all worlds for the Chinese. It eliminated the only significant military and economic rival in East Asia. It all but banned European influence east of India. And it provided both the strategic freedom and the economic means to attempt true Chinese unification. (Location 4421)

China needs a social binding agent. It needs to be a strong adhesive and applied in huge volumes. Without it China not only spins out into its constituent fragments, but large numbers of its citizens tend to gather into large groups and go on long walks together. (Location 4429)

It comes down to money. The Chinese government starkly limits what its citizens can do with their savings. Rather than allowing a wealth of investment options as exists in the capital-rich American or British system, private savings are instead funneled to state goals in a manner somewhat similar to the German system. (Location 4433)

They are to use the citizenry’s deposits to maximize bank lending to the economy as a whole. The goal of the policy is a simple one: maximum possible employment. (Location 4437)

Consequently, internal interest rates in China are artificially held well below global norms and are certainly far below what they would normally be in an economy at China’s level of development. (Location 4440)

too many loans? Take out another to cover the loan payments. The result is an ever-rising mountain of loans gone bad and ever less efficient firms, held together by nothing more than the system’s bottomless supply of cheap labor and cheap credit. (Location 4443)

First, China is aging far more quickly than it is getting rich. At the beginning of China’s international resurgence in 1990, the average Chinese citizen was only 24.9 years old, and the country boasted some 350 million citizens aged fifteen to twenty-nine. It was this simple circumstance that allowed for China’s massive manufacturing boom in the 1990s and 2000s: China was the world’s ultimate source of cheap labor and no other developing country could compete with the Chinese on price. (Location 4518)

Recall what roles each age group carries out in society from an economic point of view: Young workers do the consuming that generates economic growth. The last baby boom that China experienced was in the 1980s (Location 4533)

This group’s consumption is the primary reason why China appears to be succeeding somewhat in its current efforts to switch from an export-led to a consumption-led economy. (Location 4536)

Second, unlike the Chinese, the Japanese actually have a blue-water navy—the world’s second most powerful, in fact—and so can go get what they need. One of the few things standing in the way of the Japanese will be anything sailing up and down the Chinese coast. (Location 4583)

A slow-motion American retreat could leave the Chinese starving for raw materials, which would trigger not just poverty in the coastal regions of Shanghai and to its south but also a contest with Japan and Taiwan that the Americans might or might not participate in. (Location 4609)

As China unwinds, much of this productive capacity will fall into disuse for any mix of financial, security, or trade access reasons. (Location 4651)

Finished-goods prices will have to rise. Who will be able to take China’s place at that stage of the production cycle will depend upon the traditional factors: access to capital, markets, resources, and trade lanes. The biggest winners will likely be Mexico and the countries of Southeast Asia, although much of the more highly skilled industry and agricultural production is likely to relocate back to the United States itself. (Location 4654)

We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion–$2 trillion [in new debt]… we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys, but there is nothing much we can do.” (Location 4689)

Global immigration in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has often had a reputation for being comprised of tired, poor, huddled masses. (Location 4710)

Don’t think it’s possible? Think again. Emigration in times of economic stress is a concept as old as the hills. In the Bretton Woods era, we’ve just come to think of “economic stress” as synonymous with “poor countries.” Roll back the clock to the 1840s and 1850s and look at America’s immigrant communities. Some 1 million Germans left Europe for the United States during the political and economic upheavals surrounding the revolutions of 1848. Almost all of them were skilled labor. (Location 4719)

The lion’s share of these migrants are likely to seek entry into the same place: the United States. The reasoning is pretty straightforward. The United States is going to be somewhat above the global chaos, and its origin as a settler society makes it better able to absorb foreign populations than most countries. It will be an attractive destination from both a security and an economic point of view. (Location 4727)

Such labor shifts will help entrench the American position above the international disorder. Unskilled and semiskilled labor immigration from Mexico and Central America combined with skilled labor immigration from the rest of the world will help limit labor costs across the board in the United States. (Location 4740)

Such groups will still exist in the future, but they will face two obstacles to their operation that they currently do not. The first is a problem that transnational terror groups will find that they have in common with international migrants and multinational corporations: It will become harder to get around. Crossing international borders, much less oceans, will be a much grander undertaking than it is now. Just as economies and trade will regionalize and even localize, so too will militant activity. That leaves would-be transnational terror groups with a much-constrained definition of “transnational.” (Location 4803)

Most notably, the Chechens are one of the very few peoples to have survived the Mongol invasions—a period of their history that made them very good at guerrilla warfare. (Location 4898)

While the Russians refer to the First and Second Chechen Wars3 as emotional landmarks of the post-Soviet era, the Chechens themselves refer to them as simply the latest campaigns in the Two Hundred Years War against the Russian occupation of their lands. The two most recent conflicts claimed at least one hundred thousand dead, a number similar to the total deaths in the first two years of the Syrian civil war, but among a population that was but one-twentieth the size. (Location 4904)

What truly terrifies the Russians, however, is not that the next Chechen rebellion is coming, that it will likely be successful, or that it might even result in the full-scale ejection of Russians from their Caucasus anchor. It is that the rebellion will spread. (Location 4935)

The kicker is that this—all of this: the dissolution of the free trade order, the global demographic inversion, the collapse of Europe and China—is all just a fleeting transition. The period of 2015 through 2030 will be about the final washing away of the old Cold War order. It isn’t the end of history. It is simply clearing the decks for what (Location 4969)

Instead of fifteen years of struggles and pain and want, the Americans will experience fifteen years of moderate growth with stable markets and reliable energy supplies. (Location 4979)

that point. The Boomers’ children, Gen Y, will be forty to sixty. As a group the Ys’ incomes will make the American system flush with cash once again. After fifteen years of ever tighter budgets, the American government’s fiscal balance will heal. (Location 4988)

will be China, because China will already be there. By 2040, the average Chinese will be forty-seven, versus the average American who will only be (Location 4992)