My wife Patricia and I just returned from a trip to Kyoto, Japan, the ancient Imperial capital. Patricia lived and worked in Osaka for six years in the 80’s and early 90’s for a modeling agency, so it was a return trip for her and an eye opener for me. We rented a traditional Japanese house and toured the city and southern Japan for eight fantastic days – viewing gardens, visiting temples, and shopping at public markets.
We also took the bullet train to see the Peace Park in Hiroshima. Japan’s transportation infrastructure is amazingly efficient, and to visit the site of the city where nuclear weapons were first used – on the same day the North Koreans tested another rocket – was chilling. I thought to myself while touring the museum and Peace Park what my father, who served in the Pacific with the US Navy in WWII, would have thought…
While on the trip, which includes a very long flight across the Pacific Ocean, I read quite a bit. I read a fascinating book, The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and The Coming of Global Disorder, by Peter Zeihan.
If you love maps, you will love this book. But more than that, Zeihan makes the case that the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944, which established the free trade world we live in today, is about to come to a tumultuous end. The American exceptionalism that we are so fond of talking about today was embodied in this agreement which, unlike anything else in previous world history, treated the defeated nations in a magnanimous manner by providing the guarantee of global safety. We had the only floating navy in the world, the only operational nuclear weapon and we gave everyone free access to the world’s largest booming consumer market – America.
Zeihan also points out that ‘America the Beautiful’ really is beautiful – from a geographic perspective, there is no other region on the planet blessed with so many navigable waterways, deep water ports, and ocean moats which protect both coasts from any potential enemy. No other part of the globe is as geographically blessed as the United States – so yes, God really did shine his grace on thee.
All of this, combined with his geopolitical narrative in which the U.S. now is producing its own energy – see the shale oil and natural gas booms – will shape the way America will interact with the rest of the world. Do we enter a modern Bretton Woods Agreement to guarantee trade on much different terms or do we revert to our pre-WWI posture of isolationism in fortress America?
The last two-thirds of the book is a tour de-force of the geopolitical strategic position of every region and major nation state around the globe based upon their own geography, demographics, economic and political stability. He draws some fascinating and not too far-fetched conclusions – are you ready to have Alberta become the 51st State in the Union? Or more importantly, are we going to permit the lawlessness of Mexico and Central America to become a permanent source of instability which will wreak havoc on our own American economy – particularly Arizona and the Southwest?
As we have pointed out many times on our blog here at HighGround, it is in America’s and Arizona’s best strategic interests to have a productive trade and immigration relationship with Mexico, Central and South America. This doesn’t happen by demonizing those who may have differing views on how that looks from an economic and demographic standpoint. It starts by understanding we should all work towards an immigration system that protects our borders and creates economic opportunities for American citizens. If we continue to hesitate and fail to act, we may see Zeihan’s warnings come to fruition sooner than later.