Shamefully, but with the current conditions in the world it’s also not shocking humankind has reached a new stage in military development and globalisation. With growing nationalistic feelings, unequal income distribution, lower projected economic growth rates, climate change and more insecurities rising, nations start in earnest upgrading and developing new weapon systems.
Till a certain degree there is always a cold war between humans. Protection is something hardwired in our genetics, we strive for a safe environment for the sake of ourselves and our siblings. Only military weapon programs have become destructive to a level we need to ask ourselves if we want these type of weapons. Especially the only thing we can use these weapons on, is ourselves as species. But fear for being overstepped by other countries and feeling threatened in our way of life, will evoke a response as we are hardwired to do. The only solution I see, is accepting we are one and form a world government. Only, good luck with that the coming century.
The Global Risks Report 2017 is clear. We will see more threats and conflicts for the coming century. All nuclear powers are busy upgrading and developing new nuclear arsenals and weapon systems. Detection and protection systems (SDI) already led to multiple warhead holding nuclear missiles (MIRV), technological progress goes hand in hand with more advanced possibilities of creation and destruction. Other developments as in drone, robotic and aviation systems, cyber warfare capabilities, kinetic and energy weapons; assures many fields to strive and compete in. Consequently absorbing large amounts of investments which for sure is used better in other more constructive fields of human civilisation. But I will write about cause and effect in length another time.
In my opinion a few areas in the world jump out because of the many conflicting interests of powerful countries. These are the spots where we can expect events will unfold with global impact.
- South East Asia
- Middle East
- Eastern Europe
1. The situation in Asia starts to become volatile. Lower economic growth rates, climate change, nationalism and diminishing resources will put stress on relations around the Chinese South and East Sea. The area has vast amounts of fish and minerals, also the sea is one of the most trafficked trade routes in the world. China claims almost all of the China Sea as an exclusive Chinese zone and has backed up this claim by building many military outposts as airfields, defence systems, harbours and supply depots. They have militarised the whole sea and will not let loose. Involving countries are China, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. With India as giant neighbouring China they will have for sure also something to say in the matter. With so many players focused on one area, you can imagine not much need to happen for a situation to escalate uncontrollable.
China deserves some more attention as they will be coming one of the dominant superpowers of the 21 century. China is the most populated country of the world with 1.3 billion people and is becoming an economical and military giant. International they are awakened out of a slumber for centuries, hard learn lessons from the ‘Century of Humiliation’ will not be forgotten. With most importantly that isolationistic policies don’t match up to international realities.
Economically China is almost the number one country in the world and already the number one producing economy in the world. The Chinese government has vast amounts of interests in raw resources all over the world, with Africa as its main supplier. China will protect these interests and will become a more assertive international player then we have seen last decades. To further state their intentions, China sailed today an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait. China will stick to their one-China policy and demands the world will too.
For when relations to get worse between South and North Korea, horrible devastation is not difficult to imagine with the weapon systems set up at each-other throats. How and when a possible event and following impact will occur in Asia is difficult to say, hopefully we keep our senses and talk with each other. Still, when something goes bad in this area of the world, it will affect all of the world.
2. The Middle East is a complete mess. Blame is to be put on all. The international community never came up with an answer and was further destabilised by the American led attack Iraq Freedom and subsequent following Arabic Spring. The power vacuums created have been filled up by fanatics. For the Muslim nations directly involved, they are fighting a religious war as we have seen in Europe in the late middle ages. Political marginalised groups, small pathetic ideas, old hatred and economic hardship have set up whole groups of people against each other, exactly as happened in Europe. When we fall back, history truly repeats itself.
Also stronger getting states as Turkey and Iran will compete for more dominance in the area, as will Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi-Arabia. Still, events here will have a lesser impact on the world then in the last century, purely because oil out of this region is becoming less relevant. For sure a point of international interest and possible terrible outcomes will be Jerusalem. Also where east and far east meet, the relation between India and Pakistan can have major international consequences.
3. Russia is a wildcard in international politics and at the moment it’s all Putin. Military they are a superpower, but economically they are lacking and comparable to a second world power. International sanctions and continuous low oil prices, half of the Russian budget is build on oil revenues, have made Russian people already feel harder economic times and have become more disdained. Better times are necessary or a diversion is needed or to be created.
Putin has proven himself a master in manipulating domestic sentiments and overlapping international sanctions in response to Russian aggression. We have seen his work at hand in the Crimea, Ukraine, Moldavia and Georgia. What will happen the coming years is difficult to say, maybe with Trumps presidency relations will become stronger or when Putin is gone, all is possible. In the end good relations between the United States, the European Union and Russia are welcome, over the centuries we have shared many ideals and values to heart.
4. Big problems facing the African Union will be climate change, income inequality, overpopulation, diminishing resources and tribal or religious wars. In terms of level of impact on world affairs, Africa will be a stage, not a player. Hopefully soon in this century we see a more stabile Africa. For the coming decennia, the African continent will heavily contribute to immigration waves.
In comparison to the Cold War between Russia and the United States, this time we can speak of a truly Global Cold War. Instead of two nuclear powers competing for world dominance, we now have 9 nuclear striking capable states with conflicting interests between 6 of them. All in all, if we keep this Global Cold War cold (or at least local), we shall see massive jumps in technology, prosperity and wealth. We shall put humans on Mars and who knows what more we discover in our solar system, maybe we even reach out to the stars. Still, it’s a thin line to walk on…