Hello Reddit! I am a geopolitical strategist and forecaster. I have spent the past few decades trying to answer one very big question: What happens when the Americans get tired of maintaining the international system, pack up and head home? That work led me to assemble my new book, Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World. I'm here to answer your questions.

So AMA about my work in geopolitics. There is no corner of the world – geographically or economically – that I’ve not done at least some work. So bring it on: India, Russia, Argentina, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sweden, Thailand, demographics, nuclear weapons, hypersonics, hacking, drones, oil, solar, banking, assembly lines, dairy, pickles (seriously, I’ve given a presentation on pickles) and on and on. I do about 100 presentations a year, and every presentation forces me to relearn the world from a new point of view so that I can then help my audience see what is in their future.

However, there are a few things I do not do. I don't pick sides in political squabbles or make policy recommendations or recommend stock picks. I provide context. I play forward the outcomes of choices. I help people, companies and governing institutions make informed decisions. What is done with that is up to the audience. Right now, that’s you.

That said, I would love for someone to stump me today – it’s how I get better. =]

I'll sign on at 3pm EST and start answering your questions.

Proof: https://twitter.com/PeterZeihan/status/1213198910786805760

Pre-order Disunited Nations: https://zeihan.com/disunited-nations/

EDIT: I'm here - let the grilling begin!

EDIT: Thanks for showing up everyone. I got to as many ?s as I could and am fairly sure we'll be doing this again within the month. Happy Monday all!

EDIT: Oh yeah - one more thing -- my Twitter handle is @PeterZeihan -- I post a few items of interest daily -- feel free to harass me there anytime =]

Comments: 1357 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

GregVous185 karma

Dear Mr. Zeihan,

Thank you for doing this AMA. In one of your presentations you made a comment about how Greece may not even exist in 30 years.

Can you please expand on the challenges Greece faces going forward? Is it really that powerless to survive?

Thank you.

PeterZeihan420 karma

Greece imports 80% of its food and 100% of its energy. The only reason was even created as a nationstate is back in the 1800s the Brits invented modern Greek nationalism as a means of destabilizing the Ottoman Empire. Since that time, someone has always found Greece useful and so has paid Greece to exist. The first time that did NOT happen was the 2000s, and so Greece faced a financial collapse. W/o the EU keeping Greece on financial dripfeed, it dies. Again.

wjfitz13145 karma

Besides your three books, what three books do you recommend for understanding geopolitics?

PeterZeihan318 karma

you cannot beat Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (he's got a new one out too, but I've not read it yet) for understanding how civilization took its current shape

I'm also a big fan of World War Z. Yes, its about zombies, but it is far and away the best geopolitical book I have EVER read.

wjfitz13129 karma

Do you see the industry midwest re-industrialising in some capacity?

PeterZeihan321 karma

Highly likely – three thoughts: 1) Mexico is the US’ largest trading partner and will remain so for at least the rest of this century. Texas is the state that has benefited from this the most, but as big and populous as Texas is, Texas is insufficient to the task and so has de facto drafted Oklahoma into a sort of Greater Texas manufacturing hub. I expect that zone to creep north along the I35 corridor and absorb parts of the Midwest 2) If the US can get rid of the Jones Act (a 1920s law that criminalizes the shipping of any cargo between any two US ports on any vessel that is not American owned, crewed, captained and registered) then the waterways can be used for manufacturing supply chains. That would massively/disproportionally benefit the Midwest. 3) A mindset shift is required. The Midwest has a very if-we-build-it-they-will-come mentality. The idea being that we are honest and hardworking so who wouldn’t want to invest here? That’s not how the world works. You need to advertise and engaged in outreach. Texans do it by making friends with Mexicans. Southerners do it by brining bourbon to potential investors. New Yorkers and Californians by writing checks. The Midwest needs a bit of a cultural reinvention to take advantage of a very advantageous confluence of factors that should benefit the US hugely.

THE_FISA_MEMO266 karma

The Midwest needs a bit of a cultural reinvention

But...but we're the Midwest, we don't do change.

PeterZeihan199 karma

true dat

SnakeEater5589 karma

Hi, I've got two questions

  1. If Turkey will be a major Mediterranean power, who will dominate the Middle East. Iran?
  2. What is the future of South Asia (Afghanistan to Bangladesh)?


PeterZeihan153 karma

Middle East:

There’s a whooooole section in Disunited on that! Short version: Iran tries to run the place while Saudi (rather successfully) tries to burn the entire region to the ground. V ugly.

South Asia:

The region is in a bubble. It is remote enough and blocked off from land approach that no one but the US could meaningfully intervene in the area, and the US has no interest. India is also the first stop for oil flowing from the Gulf, so India is unlikely to have an energy crisis (and is likely the first country to reintroduce privateering).

Danbukhari87 karma

One of your central theories (Probably THE central theory) is the ongoing end of the post WWII global order since the US is no longer interested in maintaining it in the aftermath of the cold war. Will the US once again have to ‘bribe’ nations to build a new coalition to counter Chinese aggression aka Cold War 2.0 ? Will this be necessary or even possible ?

PeterZeihan199 karma

Until the US has a national conversation about what it wants out of the world, it cannot have a goal. Until it has a goal, it cannot have a policy. And until it has a policy it certainly isn’t going to expend the resources required to counter another major power as part of an alliance. So no, I don’t see a new bribe/network arising. That said, the US doesn’t need that if the goal is to smash China. China’s finances are a mess because of its Enron-style banking model, its population is nearly terminal because of OneChild, its regions hate one another (and I’m not talking Hong Kong). But most importantly it is bolted to the global Order. China’s economy cannot survive without imported inputs and exported processed/finished goods. That’s only possible with a safe, globalized economy. The world has only had a safe, globalized economy under the global Order. Remove the US and there’s no global Order because no country – no coalition of countries – can patrol the sealanes. All the US has to do to destroy China is go home.

DapperPatience80 karma

Besides some of your comments that paint a positive outlook for Argentina in the 'new world order', I haven't really heard you comment much on the rest of Latin America. I would be interested to hear what your general view on LatAm, and more specifically the northern part of South America (Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador), is? Might these countries benefit from a more insular USA given their geographical proximity? Might we see a repeat of the 'Monroe Doctrine' considering that China has been heavily investing, and in a sense going for a land grab, in a lot of these places?

On an unrelated note, what is your general perspective on Bitcoin and what role do you see a decentralized financial system playing in the 'new world order' that you describe? Do you agree/disagree with Robert Shiller's view that Bitcoin is akin to the 'bimetallism' fad of the late 19th century, and hence not something that will last?

Many thanks for the work that you're doing, looking forward to the new book!

PeterZeihan107 karma

On Latam – yes, yes and yes

Remove global trade and the region becomes America’s back yard. That’s good or bad based upon your politics and point of view.

Central America is already in the new NAFTA (as part of the Cafta accords).

Colombia already has an FTA with the US.

None have to worry about external security.

All (save Brazil) speak Spanish making it easier for American finance to access and supply them.

The biggest issue is that the things the Latam states export – energy and food specifically – have their prices determined by international norms. In an era of Disorder, shortages and breakdowns in the Eastern Hemisphere means prices for those exports will rise. But the locals still need to consume those products, so I’d expect civil unrest to rise right along with export receipts.

SlashdotExPat77 karma

I've got a reasonable level of education and international business experience, so... I used to think I knew what I was talking about. Then I read The Accidental Superpower and it completely changed the way I view the world.

We constantly hear of the USA as a declining power, the inevitable rise of China as the world leader, etc. Your case is very logical and based on fact; why don't we hear this viewpoint more often in the mainstream media and business?

PeterZeihan192 karma

Don’t take it too personally. Part of the idea of the global Order was that the Americans forced geopolitics to not matter as much. Add in Hitler taking they idea that geography shapes people waaaay too far and the entire discipline largely disappeared from US universities until the 2010s. It is still a bit of a stepchild, certainly in geography departments. There’s also a technical reason as to why media doesn’t cover international issues well: Pre-digital-revolution everyone watched the same news programs. We called it broadcasting. Every network and most regional newspapers had foreign bureaus. That was expensive, so when we got email those bureaus got trimmed down because you could handle everything but the reporting and writing from the home offices. Then we got file attachments and you could close down everything but the reporting, and even that became more ad hoc. Then we got instant messaging and not only did you not even need the office, you didn’t even need the reporter. You could just hire stringers. Now we have algorithms that select other people’s stories for you, and we’re on the verge of having algorithms that write the contents itself. Digitization has removed people from the reporting process which means we’ve also lost context and analysis and placement and criticality. All that’s left is the domestic talking head circuit: narrowly-informed opinionmongering and fake news. As bad as it is in the US, I’d argue it is worse in Canada and the UK. The only major agencies that still do things the “old” way are Al Jazeera and France24. Russia1 used to be good until it became all-propaganda-all-the-time. The last time we had a new tech that changed how we interacted with (internationally relevant) information was the telegraph. That brought us yellow journalism. We got through that and we’ll get through this. It just takes time to establish a legal and ethnical framework for information processing and dissemination. My concern is that last time, narrowly-informed opinionmongering and fake news got us into the Spanish-American War. We could do a lot of damage before we figure out how to metabolize the new infotechs.

shadestormy71 karma

Hi Peter! You're my most trusted source of understanding of the world I live in and what to expect to see in the future. Thank you for your excellent books and conference talks - anxiously awaiting my preordered Disunited Nations copy :)


  1. How does Climate Change affect your forecasting? I assume there are at least some geopolitical considerations to be made when/if ice-free Arctic sea routes open up, agricultural capacity increases/decreases in some areas (Canada & Russia), sea levels rise, ect.? What if anything climate change related is on your radar for analysis?
  2. I've heard your thoughts on the future of militarized drones, what do you think about the implications of the new United States Space Force & militarized space? Game changer or waste of resources?
  3. What, if any, is your opinion of Musk / Bezos / the current billionaire space race? Do you believe humanity can/will become an interplanetary civilization?

Wishing you well on your book release and in the future!

PeterZeihan215 karma

Climate change is problematic for folks in geopolitics. We study how place shapes everything and climate is part of “place”. The issue is that never have any version of climate change – natural or mancaused – impacted all places identically. Nor is there a such thing as an “average” climate change. Two examples: First, Australia. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed the place is on fire. Daytime temperate increases in Oz this past decade are well beyond a standard deviation above the global norm, and that has contributed to runaway wildfires that are literally continental in scope. Oz is NOT the future of the world, but instead an example of what can happen in already-dry, already-marginal lands. How would the locals see that as anything but a bad thing, and how could this be anything but bad for Oz’s geopolitical standing? Second, Illinois. Illinois is right about at the global average in terms of temp increases, but none of it has occurred during the day. Only at night. In spring and fall having warmer nights means no freezes in the shoulder seasons. That means a longer growing season. Add in more moisture from higher temperatures and Illinois is on the verge of being about to have two crops per year. That would nearly double the average farmer’s income. How would the locals see that as anything but a good thing, and how could this be anything but good for the US’ geopolitical standing? This is the problem. The locality of climate change is what impact the geopolitical, and we just aren’t good enough at math to breakdown what that will be on a locality-by-locality basis. I’m hoping to address this – indepth – at a later time once the data is better but for now we just don’t have the info we need to do this on a continental scope, much less a global one.

devilspalm1668 karma

After reading your previous two books (The Accidental Superpower / The Absent Superpower) and your latest newsletter from The Cutting Room Files, I feel that your analyses in regards to China is a bit too phlegmatic, especially when you look at their soft power influences. Militarily, they're steadily climbing up the ranks; financially, they've been cooking the books for decades now with a credit scheme that makes our American financial insitutions blush; demographically, they've stalled like every other developed country it seems. So, in those contexts, I can see your anathema for China's potential rise on the global stage (especially when countered by Japan, Korea, and India) but I don't think it's entirely out of the realm of possibility to predict a "Chinese century" for the 21st century, especially when you consider just how well integrated the country is in regards to their electronics supply chain, mass transport industries, commercial shipping industries, telecommunications industry, etc. So my question to you is this: have you revised your outlook(s) for China at all in your new book Disunited Nations, or no? If so, what significiant changes has China made to their governing that changed your outlook?

Anyway, thanks for doing the AMA Peter, I've been enjoying reading your books for several years now and you provide a very stark contrast to the usual ideologies in our mainstream newspapers. Keep it up!

P.S. aircraft carriers are a total meme in the 21st century, right? :P

PeterZeihan117 karma

In Disunited I have shifted my take somewhat on China. I used to say China faces a series of crises, any one of which could cause systemic failure. I’m now calling it: China won’t survive as a unified country a decade from now.

Every problem China faces – financial, cultural, political, demographic, international – has become far more serious since Accidental’s publish five years ago. Most of the problems have become worse because of government policy. I’ve lost confidence in Beijing’s ability to manage the country’s future. Much of this is because of Xi personally. He’s concentrated more power unto himself than any Chinese leader in history, Mao included. That has streamlined decisionmaking, but started China back on the path to groupthink, inefficiency, and regional rebellion.

HongKong is a great example. It didn’t need to get this bad. I’m not saying HK will achieve independence (or even autonomy) but that Xi’s forcing of the issue is wrecking China’s premeior managerial, financial and logistics hub (i.e. part of what makes contemporary China work) and it was a completely avoidable crisis. The HK crackdown has also largely eliminated China’s soft power in the wider world. The Confusius institutes have largely closed and inward FDI into China has cratered even as an increasing minority of firms are simply leaving.

casetap67 karma

Thanks for doing this.

A lot of your arguments are based on the US having better population demographics than other countries in the world. However, there seems to be a lot of recent headlines about a decreasing birthrate (eg https://www.businessinsider.com/us-birthrate-decline-millennials-delay-having-kids-2019-5) and decade low immigration (eg https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2020/01/03/net-immigration-us-lowest-decade-china-tops-migrants/2804697001/).

Have there been any recent changes in US demographics that have caused you to change your view about the future of US demographics?

Thanks again.

PeterZeihan119 karma

Keep in mind that birth rate data are projections and we don’t get hard data (as a rule) until the kids are at least five. That said, we seem to be seeing a sharp drop off in US births from 2010 forward. With the financial crisis’ aftermath and Millennials deferring normal life-stuff this feels like it is correct. Won’t know for sure until 2025. But yes, if this proves true, then the US is starting down the path of the rest of the world. Keep in mind timeframes. Demographics moves slooooooooooooooooooooowly. If this is true AND if it holds true forever, the US will face its first demographically-driven labor shortages in the late 2030s and its first financial shortages in the 2080s. There’s still (a lot of) time.


Hi Peter, thanks for coming on.

What regions of the U.S. do you think will be particularly successful in the coming disorder?

Thanks again!

PeterZeihan107 karma

Top of the list is Texas: cheap land, cheap food, cheap power (whether fossil or alternative), a great demography and it’s hardwired into Mexico – literally cant screw it up

Next is the South: Southerners have mastered the art of attracting foreign direct investment and are the gateway to the US market. Biggest problem: aging demographics

Third is the Midwest: global breakdown means global agricultural breakdown means food prices go up – it’ll be good to be a farmer

For the Northeast it is probably a wash. Fastest aging part of the country will see less local economic activity even as it adopts more populist policies and the heavier regulatory burden that comes from it. But it is still the gateway for $$ from the rest of the world and the most urbanized (read: efficient) part of the country.

The West Coast will be the area to suffer the most. They are the most wired into global trade in general and Asia in specific. Also, anything that cracks manufacturing supply chains for electronics – whether populist policies in DC or a China crack – will wreck Silicon Valley. A shining exception is Seattle: no EU means no Airbus. Boeing boom coming soon to a spaceneedle near you!

Mazzab4946 karma

Hi Peter,

What does the future look like for Australia? Do we remain a US ally moving forward or are we cut loose as the USA steps back?

PeterZeihan121 karma

Oz has – repeatedly – gone out of its way to be a loyal ally, even when domestic politics challenge the idea. This has been the position of EVERY Oz government since 1940. The reason is simple: Oz is a lightly populated land near very densely populated lands. It simply cannot manage its own defense. That has nudged EVERY Oz government to not simply be very loyal, but to be extremely creative. For example, all that recent hubbub about Huawei? Americans didn’t figure out the firm was a front to create a global hacking system – that was the Aussies. The people in the know throughout US defense and intel know the reality and value our Aussie allies. And you may have noticed, even Trump hasn’t meaningfully challenged the US-Oz trade deal. Really, it’s the only one he hasn’t lambasted. Oz diplomats know when to keep their heads down, when to shout from the rooftops and when to pass notes in class. Oz has become the country that most excels at understanding and manipulating the US (more so than Canada now). Will it be enough to keep the US/Oz relationship close? Probably. The big hit to Oz will come with the Chinese crash, and I’d argue that many in Oz are already positioning for that inevitability.

galenlong40 karma

Hi Peter,

Is it too late for the Keystone XL pipeline to be effective given the US refinery complex transition to light, sweet shale oil?

Also, is it too late for the Transmountain Pipeline expansion to be effective given the US withdrawl from protecting the world's sea lanes. Maybe could still be useful in providing oil to California perhaps, though?...even if a refinery had to be built in BC or Cali to refine the heavy blend?

Thanks Peter! Galen Long

PeterZeihan47 karma


Not too late yet, but we are getting there very quickly. US refiners LOVE Alberta’s heavy/sour oil – it is what their facilities were designed to operate on (US shale is light/sweet). If there was reasonable confirmation of construction today, most US refiners would delay making changes to their facilities with plans to use Albertan oil.

And I think ur correct. The only reasonable market if TransMountain occurs would be California. Asia just won’t be stable or safe enough for most tanker traffic and aside from maybe Japan, the US won’t allow Asian military vessels to convoy to North America. That just leaves Cali.

theBYUIfriend40 karma

I wanted to ask about a comment that you made on a YouTube podcast a month or two ago. It was a small side comment in which you stated that you expected the Canadian Confederation to start to unravel with in the next two years.

Although I do not live in Alberta full time (full disclosure, I am a dual U.S./Canadian citizen living in San Antonio, Texas), I do have family in Alberta, and I do visit Alberta on a semi-regular basis. So I do see all of the foundational conditions expressed in your book and newsletters in the province. In my last visit over the holidays, I saw that WEXIT was gaining traction (even among my more liberal family members). I do, however, think that two years is a little fast. If someone had asked me to predict how long the resentment would take to boil over to a referendum on secession. I would have predicted perhaps around 4-5 years. So I guess I am wondering what is making you think that an Alberta succession referendum is only two years away?

Also, do you see the U.S. absorbing all of the former Canadian provinces or just some of them?

PeterZeihan74 karma

I believe I said that in the next two years we’ll know if it is going to happen, because after that it won’t really matter. Here’s my thinking: Two years is when Quebec shifts into mass retirement and the financial burden upon Alberta becomes crushing. Two years is about when the US refining complex will have mostly shifted towards preferring light/sweet shale crude oil instead of Alberta’s heavy/sour. Two years is about how long it’d take Alberta to realize a) Canada as a whole will never give them a better deal, b) the financial commitment to remaining Canadian will destroy the Albertan economy, and c) the US political system will lose most of its party coherence (temporarily) and become unable to meaningfully debate something like Alberta petitioning for statehood. Point of all that is we are in the witching hour. The one bright spot I see in all this (for Canada) is that DepPM Cristina Freeland is now in charge of all interprovinicial affairs. She’s smart, she understands the challenge at hand, and she’s from Alberta. If anyone can head this off, it’s her. The question is whether she can offer anything the Albertans want. Of that I’m not all that hopeful…

As to who else the US "wants". Saskatchewan is a shoo-in and if Alberta did leave Sas would leave the next day. After that, negotiations would get more difficult. BC and Quebec and Ontario have a firmer we-are-not-American mindset that would not go over well with American negotiators.

grizzlybear079735 karma

In comparison between you and your old boss George Friedman, it seems you have differing opinions on Argentina and Poland. He also doesn't seem to be quite as bullish on France. Based on George's position on Poland it indicates you feel the US will pull back further then he is expecting. He seems to envision a US endorsed, Poland lead Intermarium with it and Romania as just the first two pieces falling into place. In comparing your different outlooks, do you know why George takes a more middling outlook on Argentina and France relative to yours? His Intermarium position on Poland seems to hinge on US backing (example: South Korea, Israel), but maybe you know more?

Do you see any potential for a multi-province Wexit? From the last election it appears AB, SK, interior BC, and MB along the US border all went conservative. Any potential union between them or is it meaningless unless they get coastal BC on-board? Could they even offer coastal BC enough to entice them?

How effectively do you see Turkey being able to leverage the Turkic populations spread across a number of countries in central asia?

Do you see Argentina, France, Turkey and/or Japan involved in a coalition during this century to combat the US after reemergence?

PeterZeihan54 karma

IMO the Intermarium isn’t feasible even with the US. Defense of Europe without France and Germany is simply silly. The US (even at the height of the Cold War) v Russia (even at the depth of the 1990s) is simply a mismatch. It’s simple geography. Poland is a flat, defenseless plain. Romania is on the other side of the Carpathians. The are NOT part of the same theater, so the US would need to deploy two completely separate cross-continental fronts while the Russians could shift forces back and forth between them easily. As such, no one serious in Poland talks about Polish leadership except maybe w/in the Visegrad Group (Poland, Cz, Hungary and Slovakia). Romania is on its own, or at best, partnered with Turkey. It isn’t so much that the two cannot bleed for one another, but instead that they cannot. Instead of the Intermarium I find it far more likely (and feasible) that Poland will find a way to get its hand on a nuke or seven. In a real war scenario it is the only way Poland might survive.

AndreanCr32 karma

Do you subscribe to any particular political ideology?

PeterZeihan66 karma

My personal politics are a mess and as a rule they don't make it into any of my analysis. If I had to put a label on it I'd call myself a libertarian.

shankar_197931 karma

What do you think about the prospects of India in the coming new world order? What would you suggest India focus on for a better future? What would you suggest India avoid/stop doing? Thanks for your work. Thank you for the answers.

PeterZeihan66 karma

India isn’t a country and you shouldn’t think of it that way. India is a region with a very loose governing system of local, national and state proclivities that constantly and mutually hobble one another. That means India has never really modernized and never taken advantage of the global Order. That’s bad. But it is also good, because it means that India will not overly suffer when the Order ends. I’m going to refrain from giving any recommendations as to what India should or should not do (I’m not in that business), but I will point out that India has more or less looked like this for 1500 years. It isn’t about to change no matter what happens.

Chazmer8729 karma

Thoughts on Scottish Independence?

PeterZeihan151 karma

Scottish independence is quite possibly the stupidest political movement in the advanced world today, especially in the context of Brexit. If Scotland were an independent country it would be Europe’s oldest and sickest demographic, and among its most indebted countries. Scotland could never meet EU membership criteria and several existing EU countries would veto its application. The oil is gone from the North Sea, and every bank in Scotland has already made it abundantly clear that if Scotland moves to divorce they will decamp. The only thing keeping Scotland from devolving into a 3rd (4th?) world nation is transfer $$ from London. I cannot think of a more effective means of national self-destruction.

FancysaurusR3x28 karma

How long after the total global destabilization, will we see balance and stabilization?

PeterZeihan75 karma

It can go one of two ways:

1) The US decides what it wants and imposes a new system, perhaps even a new Order. That first requires the US parties getting through their current restructuring so that they can debate what it is that the US wants out of the world. The soonest that restructuring is likely to happen is 2030, which would suggested 2035 is the soonest the US could start to impose any plan.

2) Something spooks the US and we have a kneejerk response that involves something like what we did after WWII. The soonest that can occur would be when one of the new regional powers does something that Americans find scary.

Russia, Germany, China, Iran, Brazil and Saudi are all going to be locked down in regional affairs and IMO none are going to emerge in a dominant regional position (spoiler alert: central theme of Disunited). Instead Argentina, Turkey, France and Japan will rise as the significant players.

It is hard to imagine Argentina doing something the US finds more than amusing. Turkey and the US may disagree over a lot of things these days, but remove US interest from places like the Balkans and Mesopotamia and the Caucasus and its hard to see Americans getting too worked up. France and the US are like estranged siblings. We spat and fight but will always be for one another on anything important.

That just leaves Japan…and Japan fully understands what can happen when you get on America’s bad side. If there is ANY country that will go out of its way to not aggravate the US, it is Japan.

So….I’m thinking 2040 is a reasonable stake in the ground. IT gives the US enough time to get its internal political shit together, and enough time for the Disorder to shake out a new global environment that might lead to different interestsets and viewpoints.

bagonta25 karma

How much of a threat are modern warfare technologies to the traditional geographical defensive advantages of the US?

PeterZeihan79 karma

Today, probably not at all. Earth's oceans are freakin' huge so cross-oceanic strikes aren’t possible w/o a support network that only the US has (unless you use ICBMs which…changes the conversation).

What they do do (heh) is reduce the usefulness of the supercarriers because they at least in theory force the carriers to be further from shore. The missing piece is a redundant, ruggedized, relocatable satellite system. In any real war the first the US will do is take out all Chinese satellites.

For example, the new hypersonics and China’s intermediate range ballistics could, in theory, hit a carrier 1000+ miles out to see. But the Chinese require eyes-on the carrier to hit it, so as soon as the US detects a launch, the carrier moves and by the time the missile arrives the carrier is gone (very Mr Miagi).

Remember when the Chinese shot down one of their own satellites a decade ago and everyone bitched about how the Chinese could shoot down something they owned and knew where it was and how to hit it? Within a week the US took out eight different satellites w eight different offensive systems and China got reeeeal quiet.

It isn’t that the US is immune. It is that the US is heavily resistant…and it is at or near the front of the tech revolution in weapons and has a LOT more experience in managing and operationalizing and deploying and using and troubleshooting these techs than anyone else.

Hogeli_Bogeli24 karma

Hello Peter! Huge fan! You've never talked about Norway, and how they will do in the world of the disorder. What does the future have in store for us? On your map of the wars of the disorder, Norway is always in the "Danger Zone". How come?

PeterZeihan51 karma

Norway is in the danger zone because the Norwegians are good people and will stand with their Nordic family in any fight with the Russians. Beyond that, most Norwegians live far enough away from the likely fighting that Norway will come through in one piece and the Norwegian predilection for saving means that Norway will be one of very few countries in the future that has a stable financial supply. So long as they continue to have reasonably good relations with the US and UK (and I see no reason why they wouldn’t) the Norwegians will do just fine.

But for God's sake, learn about hot sauce!

shamrock600020 karma

Hi Peter big fan of yours thanks for doing an AMA!

3 questions if you don't mind:

  1. Do you think hypersonic missiles have the potential to make Navy's close to obsolete? Is this technology so advanced that only "top-tier" countries will be able to make them or is it likely that mid-tier countries like Iran could feasbily build them?
  2. (Asking as a Brit) If you were benevolent dictator of the UK, what moves would you make to improve our strength? Would greater spending on the Navy be a smart move for the next 20-30 years?
  3. Your views are very logical (and almost always turn out right!), but you never heard them expressed so plainly in traditional media or by politicians. Do you think this is just "PR" since the realities often don't sound nice? Or are they often genuinely ignorant of the big trends and ideas that you identify?

Looking forward to reading your new book!

PeterZeihan50 karma

Hypersonics: A weapons system that is going to take out a carrier needs four things:

1) Reach

2) Range

3) Speed

4) Independent targeting capacity

The first three are obvious and are part of what hypersonics promise (keep in mind none of these are deployed just yet, much less battletested).

But it’s the fourth that really matters. In any meaningful war scenario space will be a theater and no one is better at space warfare than the US. Any anti-US adversary has to plan on being space-blind. So any hypersonic will need to be able to “think” on its own. If it flies high, US radar can see it (and likely intercept it). If it flies low, its visual range is very sharply limited (at 20 feet over the water, it can only see about ten miles). So it needs to be able to think about maneuvers, ID targets, differentiate targets, AND evade countermeasures. Our AI just isn’t that good (and especially that miniaturized) just yet.

So the Chinese position is simple. Don’t try to hit a single ship. Cook off hundreds (thousands?) of the things and hit every ship.

So let’s assume the saturation strategy works and it eliminates US naval forces from the Western Pacific. What do you think the region’s merchant marine will look like the next day? What do you think the countries of the First Island Chain will think of China from then on? What sort of moronic ship captain will ever sail inside the Chain within in the next decade? “Success” in this sort of exchange with the US absolutely destroys the Chinese economy.

Now that said, these weapons are coming and they will get better and that will – in time – obviate the supercarriers as concept. It is probably 40+ years out, but it is coming. As such I’d argue that the Ford class is America’s last supercarrier class. My money is on the next “big thing” being arsenal ships: Destroyer-size vessels that carry a few thousand cruise missiles, a significant proportion of which will be…hypersonics.

Karma’s a bitch.

malariadandelion16 karma

In your list of US allies post collapse, you include Japan and SK but not Taiwan or the Phillippines. What do they not have to offer?

PeterZeihan44 karma

In a word, exposure. SK, Taiwan and Phil are hugely dependent upon regional/global security and trade and are utterly incapable of looking after those interests. Japan, who has the world's two most capable non-US carriers, can. Under Trump Japanese PM Abe has been successful in underlining that Japan isn't simply a loyal ally, but a capable one. AND he's given into Trump on trade. Its a high standard for other countries to meet.

future-prez13 karma

Thank you for doing this peter I have read your books and found them extremely interesting and thought provoking

I have multiple questions feel free to answer any of them

  1. What do you think of the current presidential election? What policy proposals do you like/dislike?

  2. Are their any predictions from your book that you have since changed your mind on?

  3. Do you have any time frame (years, decades) for any of your predictions (Canada, the wars with Russia, Iran and China)

  4. In your presentations you predict that the political parties will change(Republicans unionize and Democrats becoming big business) have you seen any movement in that direction

  5. Finally what will you do to spread your message? Any future books after Disunited Nations? Any plans for YouTube

PeterZeihan31 karma

I’ll answer #2 (What have I changed my mind on)

Two big things

1) The shale revolution has proving bigger and faster than I ever expected. Its rapidity prompted me to write book #2 (Absent Superpower) and has colored #3 as well. I said in #1 (Accidental Superpower) that by 2020 the shale revolution would make North America as a unit oil self sufficient. Instead the US by itself is now an oil exporter. That’s put a lot of my other forecasts on steroids, in particular the growing American feeling that we don’t need anyone else. Which brings us to…

2) The Americans’ desire of divorce from…everything has gotten huge. Instead of slimming down the ally list to something more compact, instead – as I say in Disunited “America’s list of allies has shrunk from nearly everyone to the potentially useful to the obviously useful to the obviously loyal to those with little choice.” At the rate we are going the US will only have 3-4 allies: the UK, Oz, Singapore, and maybe Japan.

RedComet009311 karma

Peter, I am a young international trade attorney and big fan of your writings, and love listening to your lectures on YouTube.

One question for you is this: how did you make a career in geopolitics? I would love to pursue a similar path in the long term.

Another relating to your thought process regarding a hot war in Europe based on Russia's declining population: your analysis makes complete sense, but doesn't nuclear deterrence make the need for a shooting war in Europe both far less likely and far less necessary from the Russian perspective? They don't need a choke to defend if they can protect their borders from invaders with the threat of nuclear retaliation.

Other than this I'd love to hear your take on (1) Iran; (2) if there's a way the US can go "too far" that would override the new transaction-based foreign policy that demographics will force other countries into; or (3) just to open up /r/worldnews and give commentary on whatever you see there

PeterZeihan29 karma

Career advice: My path was … odd. I had political jobs at the local, state, national and intl level and personally? I hated them all. I fell it what I’m doing – first at Stratfor and now with ZoG – completely by accident. I’m not sure it’s replicable. So two thoughts: 1) Have a VERY wide bullseye. Jobs for people who study mid-14th century Islamic history are few and far between, even in academia. You need to be able to hold conversations about politics AND economics AND trade AND security in more than one region. 2) Learn Spanish. It’s the #2 language in the US and the #2 in the Western Hemisphere and if I’m correct about the general global fuckupedness that’s about to erupt, the WHem largely gets a pass. Most countries of the WHem will have high needs for this or that product or service while also excelling at producing this or that other product or service. Folks who can move between worlds with smoothness and style will do VERY well.

rolling_roland11 karma

Hi Mr. Zeihan, thanks for doing this ama.

I've read your first book and seen some of your online content and I have few questions for you. I'm sure many will ask about the Iran - U.S situation so I'll focus to different parts of the world. Feel free to pick and choose.

1) You've argued that China has difficulty to escape the landlock due to the first island chain. Do you see no way for it to go to the opposite direction. That the China finishes its islands, comes to dominate the South China Sea, the first island chain from Taiwan and below falls on China's lap like dominoes and the islands become impenetrable coastal fortress?

2) Is it going to be pre First World War style empires again and if so, which countries are actually going to form empires?

3) Europe is now encircled by three strong countries with different goals: Britain, Turkey and Russia. What do you think about their ability to cooperate and put pressure on Europe?

4) You've argued that Russia has very narrow window to act if it wishes to expand. If Russia fails to act, is the Eastern Europe finally going to be conflict free happy-go-lucky zone or is the historical instability of the Eastern Europe somehow of more fundamental sort?

5) What do you think will be the geopolitical significance of the global warming, melting north and the new sea routes?

6) I've seen your global stability map on some video and you predict realtively good for the Nordics in the near future. As a Finn I'd like you to throw some doom and gloom here as well. What are the major challenges going forward for the Nordics?

7) What geopolitical content do you recommend other than your own books?

Thanks for taking time to answer the questions!

PeterZeihan30 karma

let’s mix 3, 4 & 6

Russia doesn’t get along with anyone. At all. Like ever. Their paranoia is a product of their hyperexposed geography and their size by its very nature provokes fear. Any cooperation with the Russians only exists so long as macro and micro geopolitical alignments hold…or the leadership of another country is sufficiently bribed or dumb. (Erdogan of Turkey certainly falls into one, and perhaps both, categories. It won’t last) None of which means the EU’s future is a bright one, but that’s another topic completely.

If Russia fails to act, then Russia starts to fall apart. Russia is not a traditional nation-state. It is a multi-ethnic empire. If that fractures and we see civil collapse (and likely the odd internal war) the Russian frontier becomes less secure. More functional pieces of the old Russian empire will try to claw their way out. Some will use guns. Some will have nukes. All will have Soviet-quality military equipment and intelligence personnel. I would not want to be Poland or Ukraine.

But I might want to be Finland. Assuming the Russians don’t try their Hail Mary and come and visit the Balts in the night, a suitably chaotic Russia might entice the Finns to come visit Russia. The Karelian Isthmus used to be Finnish territory, and in a Russian-disintegration scenario I can absolutely see St Petersburg breaking away to become the fourth Baltic republic under Finnish sponsorship. Not exactly risk free, but hey, that’s the neighborhood.

PeterZeihan25 karma

Let’s do #2

Yes, I see a period of neoimperial expansion ahead of us. Most of the “countries of the future” will be those whose local geographies are really good – these are places that actually suffered under the Order to a degree. Think about what the Order did: it shattered the empires and enabled everyone to enjoy security and to trade across the ocean. The countries that could to that without help before the Order suffered in relative terms. Remove they Order and they come roaring back. The big winners: Japan, Turkey, France and Argenfreakintina.

Each gets a full chapter in Disunited.

camo13249 karma

Long time fan and USN sailor here. The world of American secured oceans and world policing seems to be coming to a close but occasionally I see signs that contradict predictions in your books. I point to a continued deployment to the Middle East and investment in Eastern European bases like Poland. You consistently mention in your talks (any presentation you give that makes it to YouTube) that Trump is pulling us out of the system faster than another administration would have. What does continued investment in Poland and such mean?

PeterZeihan15 karma

Things are not moving in a straight line, and the stuff in Poland is pretty small all things considered. Events in the ME are of more interest to me but at present is simply isn’t clear if they is a one-off chest-beating exercise or something more aggressive. But bottom line: Americans don’t want to be in the ME right now and during the past three presidents we’ve gone from 150k+contractors to today’s level of roughly 1/9 that. Trump would have to send in a LOT more (and to places besides the staging facilities in Kuwait) for me to change my mind on that.