Well they are for me at least. Friedman and Bell. Their ideas aren’t expressively from 2011 either. We’ll get to that in a bit though. First, an introduction to Mr. George Friedman and Mr. Stewart Bell.
So who is this dude? I’ll tell you who. He’s primarily known as the head and mastermind behind STRATFOR, a Global Intelligence firm which could also be lumped under the same category as a Security Thinktank… for pay.
My involvement with Friedman began in December 2010. A friend of mine, and one time contributor to DSP Louise Gallager gave me a book for Christmas while she was living in Ontario. The name of the book was “The Next 100 Years”. The book discussed how China’s going to collapse as a country, Russia will rise for the next 10 years and fizzle away, how Poland and Turkey are going to become world global players later in my lifetime and finally, how Mexico is going to challenge the United States for North American supremacy on or about 2110.
It all sounds kind of crazy, but the thing is… Friedman himself isn’t. From what I gather, he’s actually pretty on the ball. He’s also surrounded himself with other people who know a lot of what’s going on in the world (including Fred Burton, another great mind and author of Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent’s Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice).
Friedman says many things, but what I want to focus on today is the emphasis he places on population growth.
The reduction that took place decades ago in the advanced industrial world is now under way in the least developed countries. having ten children in Sao Paolo is the surest path to economic suicide. It may take several generation to break the habit, but it will be broken. And it won’t return while the process of educating a child for the modern workforce continues to become longer and costlier. Between declining birthrates and slowing increases in life expectancy, population growth has to end.
(Page 56 of Friedman’s Book “The Next 100 Years).
The most important part of this is is clearly the decline in population growths. It’s already begun. Let’s be clear, the birth rate in the world isn’t negative, it’s slowing. Somalia’s birth rate has gone from 47 births/1,00 to 42 births/1,000 people from 2000 to 2011. Canada’s has gone from 11 to 10 in the same time period (I was going to use Ireland as an example, but the Irish increased their birth rate like crazy after the financial collapse in 2008… leave it to the Irish to break my argument apart). In both cases, the birth rate isn’t negative. It’s declining, shows a pattern of decline and will continue until there is a negative growth rate, shrinking the world’s population.
Friedman points out that today, western countries are being very picky about who enters their borders. There are stipulations about how much money you must have, the kinds of jobs you can do and how many hours a week you can work (I’m thinking of my own experience here when I was subjected to EU immigration regulations). These restraints on immigrants are going to end within the next 40 years. The developed and developing worlds right now have polarizing popualtion crisis’. The developed countries need more people (and quickly) and the developing countries have too many people. Within my lifetime, both camps will be in need of people. All countries around the world are going to try and attract immigrants from wherever to bring them to their country.
Friedman predicts an immigrant having multiple choices when choosing their new home. France, the US and Japan (yes, even Japan) are going to be offering different incentives to them. Universal health care, low crime rates, strong integration records, etc. The younger a person is, the more education or skills they have will just add to the incentives being offered.
This is where Friedman starts to overlap with my other great thinker of 2011, Bell…
Stewart Bell is a journalist, author of a particular book that caught my interest last year called “Cold Terror”. He also writes fro the National Post. Bell, like Friedman, is also smarter than I am. Although one is a big picture kind of strategist and the other focuses on terror related material for one specific country they both changed how I view my world last year, and they overlap.
The introduction to his book outlines a scary precis – that Canada faces a particularly unusual and tough set of circumstances when it comes to terrorist groups operating within the country.
Canada is a country made almost entirely of immigrants (save for the first nations, who coincidentally are the fastest growing segment of the population, but that’s an article for another day). As Friedman predicted, Canada is very interested in attracting immigrants to the country for a variety of reasons. Canada has a lot of land to expand out to (imagine a Thunder Bay with two million people!) there are lots of resources to plunder and currently, there are a lot of older people. Canada is going to have to import a bunch of young workers to support the health care costs and pensions for the aging population.
Canada was also home to the world’s largest aviation terrorist attack, second now only to the events of September 11th, 2001. I’m referring to the Babbar Khalsa attacks in the mid to late 1980′s, including Air India 182. Bell criticizes the Canadian police and intelligence agencies, as well as the willingness of the governments of the time in closing on terror related activities within Canada’s borders. In regards to Babbar Khalsa, the state of mind of the governments were more or less to turn a blind eye. Fundraising and training for attacks halfway across the world that don’t target Canadians wasn’t going to be a hornet’s nest that they were going to stir up.
Babbar Khalsa was allowed to exist and was able to eliminate hundreds of people from this earth over three different continents.
Bell continues to give similar themed outlines of Hezbollah, Black Tigers and homegrown terrorists. All allowed to exist in Canada, all allowed to fundraise to subvert foreign governments.
One line that stood out to me was about Canada’s own FLQ. Bell pointed out in the anger that Canadians would feel if the FLQ was allowed to establish a base in Brazil or Ukraine where they could spread propaganda and fund-raise millions to subvert the Canadian government.
Clearly, Canada needs immigrants. The thirst for immigration is going to continue to grow stronger. With that, Canadians (and other countries of high immigration) should expect both the benefits of having a new crew of young people from all over the world, and the negatives. It’s been occurring ever since Canada existed. Thomas D’Arcy Mcgee was a founding father of the Dominion of Canada. He was also (allegedly) assassinated by Patrick Whelan, a Fenian from Ireland (I know, that’s the third or fourth Irish-Canadian connection this article).
Immigrants will bring their expertise, their ways of life and their conflicts with them, just as anyone else in the world would as well. Having systems in place to halt terrorist related activity within Canada to stop the radicalization of al Shabbab youths in Toronto or the Whelans’ of the world is just as important as attracting them in the first instance.
*Also of note, the case against Whelan is very circumstantial. He always maintained his innocence and had even fought against the Fenians at a younger age. There could also be a case of Whelan as a victim, framed as a Fenian because he fit the perfect candidacy of an immigrant to be framed. I think this validates my point even further.