Fate: Geography or demography?
In the 1950s, the Kingston Trio sang: “They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain. There are hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain…” But, in 2011, the world seems worse off than in the 1950s. Now, there are earthquakes in Oklahoma.
While one can say that geography is Fate and that those nations blessed with abundant fossil-fuel deposit are in the catbird seat, can it also be said that changing demographics are Fate was well? Sir Halford John Mackinder, the founder of geo-politics, described his native British Isles as “A lump of coal surrounded by fish.” That explained how Great Britain had the energy to fuel the Industrial Revolution, fuel the Royal Navy, and how Great Britain had enough fish and chips to feed its coal miners and other industrial workers.
Based on figures from the U.N. Population Fund and informed by Dr. George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, and other readings, certain demographic projections offer hope for the United States while portending disaster for some of America’s long-standing rivals.
For example, Russia’s demographic trends suggest the former world power is headed for the dustbin of history. Vladimir Putin, currently the world’s most able leader, knows he has about ten years in which to restore the former USSR to world-power status. Even so, that won’t last.
Russia is rapidly de-populating. The lingering, negative impacts of 73 years of communist rule over the Russian people are irreversible. Rampant alcoholism, drug abuse; abortion as the primary means of contraception and, in many cases, resultant sterility; the hopelessness of state-sponsored atheism, rampant sexually-transmitted diseases (some of them leading to sterility as well), have all combined to lower the birth rate of ethnic Russians to the point Russia will not have the manpower to field military forces sufficient to defend its borders in the Far East.
But Red China has demographic problems as well. Official communist Chinese policy limits each family to just one child. Results: Massive female infanticide and a massive increase in the number of Chinese boys. While the resulting shortage of uteruses dampens population growth, the Chinese will soon have 100 million young, unmarried, sexually-frustrated males. That kind of demographic usually leads to war.
To keep its factories running, Red China needs more fossil-fuel energy. It could send those 100 million males to conquer the islands of the fossil-fuel rich South and East China Seas. But the island nations to China’s south are relatively vibrant and would resist. Even the Obama Administration would be compelled to fight to retain freedom of the seas in that region. An easier energy path would be for China to send those frustrated, excess males north to take energy-rich Siberia away from a declining Russia. Also, there are women in Siberia.
As we are about to see, the Eurozone, and the Euro will soon be toast. The countries of Western Europe are depopulating with ethnic Europeans. Meanwhile, Western Europe is experiencing an alarming growth in its Muslim population.
In the United States, the number of children per household is just enough to sustain the ethnic American identity. If a political revolution in Mexico produces a government that will turn Mexico into the world-class economic power Mexico ought to be, our illegal immigration problem will diminish.
But, by the end of the 21st Century, Dr. Friedman predicts our cultural border with Mexico will have shifted northward, even though our political border with Mexico is likely to remain the same. Culturally, the American southwest will look more like 1845 than 2011 – a classic case of shifting demography triumphing political geography.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2011. William Hamilton.