Geopolitics and the Flat World: Chapters 12 - 14


In chapter 12, The Unflat World: No Guns or Cell Phones Allowed, Friedman takes on some of his critics (presumably those who critiqued the first edition of the book) by saying that he is a technological determinist but not a historical determinist (and he knows the world is not actually flat). As someone who is not a historical determinist, Friedman realizes that simply because technology exists and has the potential to shrink the world that does not mean all people in all places will --or can-- embrace it. In this chapter, Friedman explores some of the reasons why flattening could go wrong. He sets out to answer the following questions: What are the biggest constituencies, forces, or problems impeding this flattening process, and how might we collaborate better to overcome them? Friedman proposes three scenarios in which the world would remain unflattened for some people.

The first group of people for whom the world might not flatten is comprised of those who are too sick. Friedman details the squalor of life in rural villages in places such as Africa, China, and India. Diseases, like malaria, that can be cured in the flat world are killing millions in the unflat world because they do not have the financial or educational resources to stop their transmission. Other diseases, such as AIDS, are rampant in these places because people are uneducated about how they spread. Friedman shows how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is trying to help the other 3 billion people in the world by raising and distributing funds and awareness throughout these nations to help people combat disease. Friedman points out the dual nature of the tragedy of disease: there is the personal level, where people are suffering and families are broken; there is also the global level, where potential collaborators in knowledge are lost. Another aspect of too sick is what could happen if a pandemic hit the flat world. Because the...........

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