Rullman must have thought I had over-caffeinated Friday afternoon. I took a late lunch break and went out to Zimmerman Butte for some kettle-bell-and-gunpowder therapy, and on the way out there I fired up the latest episode of Jack Carr’s Danger Close Podcast, featuring geopolitical analyst Peter Zeihan.
As soon as I pulled into the Pit, I pulled out the phone and ordered all of Zeihan’s available books from the Deschutes Public Library. Then I called Craig and told him to check this guy out. Now I’m telling you. OK, yeah, I tend to nerd out on smart geopolitical analysis.
Zeihan is operating with data points — economic, geographic and, most importantly, demographic — that most analysts, especially those caught up in political trends either ignore or give short shrift. He has bona fides, the most telling one being that he called Putin’s invasion of Ukraine eight years ago — to the year. (Putin went off a little early, and Zeihan offers a convincing explanation as to why).
Some of this analysis flies in the face of the take RIR laid out in my previous post. Sort of. The USA has significant challenges — but in Zeihan’s analysis, both Russia and China are in much worse shape, mostly due to demographic (and, in the case of China, resource) challenges that he believes they cannot overcome. Zeihan sees the Ukaraine invasion as a last-gasp lashing out of a power in steep, terminal decline. Which, of course, makes the situation very dangerous.
And Zeihan’s take on the looming food crisis is even more dire than that of The Economist.
Zeihan’s forthcoming book forecasts a massive, seismic change in the world, bearing down on us like a freight train. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride — but, in his analysis, it’s going to be less rough for America than it will be for others who are utterly dependent on the globalized world. Because, Zeihan believes, that world is coming to the end. But, as the title of his book suggests, The End Of The World Is Just The Beginning.
Here’s the caper:
2019 was the last great year for the world economy.
For generations, everything has been getting faster, better, and cheaper. Finally, we reached the point that almost anything you could ever want could be sent to your home within days — even hours — of when you decided you wanted it.
America made that happen, but now America has lost interest in keeping it going.
Globe-spanning supply chains are only possible with the protection of the U.S. Navy. The American dollar underpins internationalized energy and financial markets. Complex, innovative industries were created to satisfy American consumers. American security policy forced warring nations to lay down their arms. Billions of people have been fed and educated as the American-led trade system spread across the globe.
All of this was artificial. All this was temporary. All this is ending.
In The End of the World is Just the Beginning, author and geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan maps out the next world: a world where countries or regions will have no choice but to make their own goods, grow their own food, secure their own energy, fight their own battles, and do it all with populations that are both shrinking and aging.
The list of countries that make it all work is smaller than you think. Which means everything about our interconnected world — from how we manufacture products, to how we grow food, to how we keep the lights on, to how we shuttle stuff about, to how we pay for it all — is about to change.
A world ending. A world beginning. Zeihan brings readers along for an illuminating (and a bit terrifying) ride packed with foresight, wit, and his trademark irreverence.
This is really good stuff — challenging, thought-provoking — the kind of stuff that gets us all stirred up here at RIR. The kind of stuff we want to share. Check out Zeihan and Carr here or on whatever podcast platform you prefer. You’ll be richer — though perhaps more uneasy — for it.