George Friedman: The Last Time We Saw This Was Before World War 2
BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN
Europe and Asia, taken together, are the heart of humanity. That’s where 5 billion out of the 7 billion people in the world live. When instability comes to this part of the world, it shakes humanity.
That’s why the geopolitical pattern developing in Eurasia is so ominous. It is like a hurricane—absorbing huge amounts of energy from the ocean, using that energy to build a vast, integrated structure, and then destroying whatever it touches.
The Eurasian landmass is the main source of that kind of energy in the world. When the various regions start to destabilize and then join together, it creates a geopolitical storm. We are now watching to see whether a hurricane will form.
Parallels with World War 2
This is not a phenomenon we see often. The last time we saw it was before World War II when every region in Eurasia started to destabilize. The destabilized areas then merged into one single integrated conflict, and it caused devastation throughout the region.
First let’s focus on the situation before World War II. Europe entered a massive economic depression after World War I. These economic problems led to political problems and the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. They also led to militarization.
In the Soviet Union, the revolution led to massive economic dislocation, starvation, and politically, to dictatorship and mass murder. The Middle East was relatively stable, save that the Arabs deeply resented the British domination of the region and were quietly organizing against it.
In India too, an anti-British movement led by Mahatma Gandhi politically destabilized the sub-continent. In Japan, a militaristic government took control and went to war with China in the 1930s. China had already been in the grips of a civil war when the Japanese invasion compounded it.
Each of these regional storms was different, but each began to interact with other regions.
The economic problem in Europe affected Russia, and Russia sought to use Europe’s problems to create a political revolution there. Russia aided various factions in China, while Japan saw Europe’s domination of Southeast Asia as unacceptable.
These storms gathered and merged in the 1930s, exploding in a war that not only drew in every part of the Eurasian landmass, but drew in the United States as well. It was World War II.
World War 2 – The 21st century hurricane is forming
We are now at the period when all regions of Eurasia are experiencing gathering storms. In Europe, the failure of the European Union since 2008 has created economic instability that is becoming political.
Russia is in the midst of economic and political problems and has moved to military action in Ukraine and Syria. The Middle East is in military and economic chaos, now expanding to include economic problems due to oil prices.
China has had a massive economic downturn, as has Japan, and in China the storm has become political, with the imposition of a tough dictatorship.
Central Asian countries are undergoing economic crises because of oil prices, and their governments have become unstable. India alone is no more unstable than it usually is.
The regional storms are intensifying, and they are merging. The Middle East crisis has affected Europe with migration and terrorism. European forces have been involved in the Middle East and have imposed economic sanctions on Russia.
Russia is deeply involved in Syria and jockeying for Turkish and Iranian support. The Russians and Chinese are both imposing political pressure on Central Asia in order to take advantage of their energy supplies should prices rise.
China is projecting power into the South and East China Seas and engaging Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia in a near-war situation.
No single overwhelming hurricane has formed, but the pattern that has emerged is generally similar to the pattern that existed in the early to mid-1930s. And that pattern turned into the greatest war in history.
What we see now is each region (India excepted) destabilizing, and the storms beginning to touch. The issue is, of course, what happens next.