The world today has not been in a state of flux this great since the collapse of the Soviet Union about 20 years ago. The difference between now and then was unquestioned American power militarily, economically, and politically. Today that is no longer the case and the world is worse off for it. In reality the danger to the world has not been this great since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963.
Threats Of War
1. From the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons to near civil war in Syria the middle east could explode in a major war drawing in outside powers like the US that could have disastrous consequences for the entire globe.
2. The Arab Spring has resulted in a change of leadership in key countries that have left many guessing what those nations (think Egypt) strategic direction will become. This level of doubt has added a new twist to the problems of thinking through a potential crisis in the region. Just like a free market economy despises uncertainty in policy so does the strategic thinker. Uncertainty in a country’s geo-political thinking leaves its neighbors only able to guess and make assumptions with all the consequences that entails.
3. Mexico is fighting an insurgency every bit as lethal as that in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only difference is that we share a large unguarded border with this failed state. The threat from the flow of illegal drugs and possible terrorist infiltration cannot be underestimated. The www.latimes.com did a story in June of 2011 (over a year ago) that said 34,000 had already died as a result of the military crack down against drug gangs, it hasn’t gotten any better since then either. Although the mexican economy is doing well the possibility that this violence will ultimately collapse Mexican authority over large parts of their own territory cannot be ruled out.
4. Tensions in Asia continue to rise as China begins to flex its muscles by attempting to enforce its disputed territorial claims throughout the region.
5. Iraq today still struggles with severe violence as the government attempts to finish off the insurgency there.
6. Afghanistan at best can only be described as a long work in progress. Which, oh by the way, has to be finished off by Afghans. Who wants to wager what the outcome will be once US troops leave by 2o14.
7. Nations like China, Russia, Iran, and Syria seem to be working in informal cooperation against the United States. Although the US could counter each country individually or even in groups of two, when they all align against America it would be near impossible for America to impose its will on a situation like the insurgency in Syria. Right now you have China and Russia actively working against the US administration via the UN Security Council to prevent Washington from resolving the situation. With Europe consumed by the Euro nightmare the United States now truly stands alone against a powerful informal alliance of countries that do not share western values, and are actively working to undermine western strategic goals in the middle east and beyond.
1. All eyes towards Europe for in spite of continued European attempts to blame America the Europeans have managed to design and implement the biggest threat to the global economy since communism. They did such a bad job engineering the institutions and laws governing the Euro that its collapse seems all but guaranteed, and it almost makes you wonder if they intended for this to happen from the beginning. An outright collapse of the Euro would throw the global economy in turmoil and set off a chain of events so destructive that it would take a generation for the world to recover.
2. Unfortuanately the problems facing the Euro also weigh on the UK, US, and Japan among others. The difference at least for now is that these countries have the proper institutions and laws in place to attempt to deal with the problem in a reasonable manner.
3. The entire global economy appears to slowing down all at the same time including the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) which were partly responsible for helping to prop up the global economy during the 2008 meltdown. If everybody slows down at once where will the help come from this time?
As the world hurdles towards darkness one has to wonder if this madness can be stopped? I am sure that many of the situations can be managed to outcomes that are not so catastrophic, but the original idea in the first paragraph of massive change and imminent danger to global order should not be underestimated. The challenges are as great as they are numerous, although some challenges (perhaps Afghanistan) will appear as less important if others play out in dire fashion. The two that I feel are the most worrisome; the Euro, and Iran are also the two most likely to come to a head in the near future. Both of these situations are real and will be resolved one way or another. The Euro will either collapse dragging down the world economy with it or the Europeans will take the necessary steps in fixing the Euro. Iran will either get the bomb and begin to act even more belligerent, or the US and Israel will strike Iran to try to prevent this. The problem is that a strike will only delay Iran, the only way to prevent them from getting the bomb is to end the regime. Unfortunately after the debacle in Iraq no one has the stomach for that kind of action so it will be interesting to see what happens. Either way both of these issues will be resolved in the near future for better or worse.