George Friedman does an excellent job doing what others populating the foreign affairs forecasting industrial complex have long failed to do. The first 3/4 of the this book is devoted to a history of Europe.
Though the book markets itself as forward-looking and predictive, Friedman makes the essential inference that the weight of history inevitably impinges on the present and will direct the course of future events. What history does Friedman find to be the key influencing factor?
If I were to put it in a nutshell, and I am, the central argument Friedman makes is that diversity of ethnicity, religion, and language in Europe, and particularly in the European borderlands where such stark differences are destined to meet, has been a catalyst of conflict in the past and will continue to be. In other words, the rules of Europe remain the same, only the players have changed.
An illustrative example is the Balkans, a part of Europe that was populated by the ebbs and flows of Christian and Muslim power. Long before Communism further wracked the Balkans with problems, it was a pressure cooker of diversity (not to be confused with a melting pot of diversity.)
The German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck famously remarked in the late 19th century that if a war were to break out in Europe, it would be over “some damn silly thing in the Balkans,” where a collision of languages, ethnicity, and a cornucopia of religions (to include Islam, Orthodox, and Catholic faiths) exist sometimes within the confines of just one nation-state.
The Balkans, sadly, is merely a microcosm of what Southern Europe has turned into through recent, massive amounts of Muslim immigration. Southern Europe, depressed by a stagnant economy, indebted and jobless, is ripe for internal conflict because it has become a low-trust society replete with unassimilated foreigners who will be blamed for joblessness.
Meanwhile, Germany (which is essentially the China of Europe, being Europe’s largest power and primary exporter), will have to contend with increasing resentment as it reluctantly steers the EU, inevitably to align with its own interests, and at the expense of the other 27 member nations. Again, Germany finds itself ill-suited for managing the power that it has a remarkable knack for garnering.