The Tide of History Changes Everything

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The Tide of History Changes Everything

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves. Or lose our ventures.”

No truer words were ever spoken than the forgoing passage from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. At Trends, we plumb the depths of technology, demography and human behavior, trying to discern the currents in human affairs that can enrich or impoverish our subscribers.

The economic and geopolitical tide is rapidly nearing the “flood stage,” which happens maybe once in a lifetime. From that point, those who can ride the associated waves of change, will go onto to seize extraordinary opportunities. Those who can’t will either drown or be left behind.

And we’re not simply talking about business. Everywhere you look, the 75-year-old “world order” crafted by the United States after World War II is falling apart. That’s why nearly every major foreign-policy initiative of the last 16 years seems to have “gone off the tracks.”

Historians frequently debate whether leaders drive history or history drives leaders. It almost always seems to be the latter. The presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, much like those of James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln, reflect the demise of the geo-political status quo, but are not its catalyst. Much of the world now already operates on premises that have little to do with the official post-war institutions, customs, and traditions, which belong to a bygone age. In such a world, instinctively following the old rules, ensures failure.

In previous issues we have focused on America’s domestic conflicts using the “Civil War” metaphor and we’ve examined the global implications of the “new nationalism.” In this segment, we’ll drill down on the dangers of relying on outdated assumptions about geo-political realities.

Consider the idea of a “Westernized Turkey,” long called the “linchpin of NATO’s southeastern flank;” it’s an idea about as useful as the “invincible” French Army of 1939. For over a decade Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insidiously destroyed Turkey’s once pro-Western and largely secular traditions; and he could not have done so without at least majority popular support within the country.

As noted historian Victor Davis Hanson observes, “Empirically speaking, neo-Ottoman Turkey is a NATO ally in name only. By any standard of behavior, Turkey is a de facto enemy of the United States, having just withdrawn its ambassador from the U...

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