INTERNATIONAL FUTURECAST:

CONTINUED PROGRESS IN A DANGEROUS WORLD

FUTURECASTS online magazine
www.futurecasts.com
Vol. 3, No. 1, 1/1/01.
(from Vol. 1, No. 1, 8/1/98)

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   In the 21st Century:

 The carrot will prove to be a more potent tool for Empire building than the stick.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  1) A weak, non-threatening European Union will achieve what 1500 years of brutal warfare by great European powers failed to accomplish.
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  Offering many economic benefits and imposing few financial, economic or political burdens, the European Union will continue to bind the nations of Europe together, providing a massive core of stability in a still boisterous and sometimes dangerous world. For most of the 19th century - with the notable exception of the Civil War - this was the formula successfully used by the United States. A weak, non-threatening federal government had no trouble extending its rule all the way to California and Alaska although - before the railroads - these territories were further removed from its physical control than the Colonies were from control by 18th century England.

  This is an incredibly important matter. Failure to achieve a broader European Union could lead to all kinds of future troubles. Recent continued progress towards expansion is thus very encouraging.
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  It should be noted that one of  the primary obstacles to achieving this vital goal is European Union "industrial policy" - especially its agricultural policies - which make expansion extraordinarily expensive and threatening to sheltered and subsidized European Union producers.

 Paranoid thugs will less frequently rise to power in nations, large or small.

 

 

 

 

 

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  2) Disruptions in the ordinary political processes of nations - usually by revolutions or wars - generally give paranoid thug types of leaders their opportunity to grab control. The 20th century offered many such opportunities.
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  Major European and Asian powers vied for supremacy in three great military conflicts and one disastrous trade war - and all of their empires dissolved - often amidst bloody revolutions. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Qadhafi, Khomeini, and other similar leaders took advantage of these disruptions to grab power. They plagued the world and, especially, those peoples unfortunate enough to fall under their control.
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  As the 21st century begins, all the empires are gone, the major European powers and Japan are at peace, and trade war is hopefully a thing of the past.

  The current attacks on globalization constitute a real threat to this outlook. Of course - as with any major political undertaking - globalization has its share of real problems. Whether bathwater can be discarded without losing the baby is the biggest challenge for international economic policy since the death of the Evil Empire and the discrediting of socialism.
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  Globalization is far from as extensive as it should be. The future prosperity of the world - and especially the future prosperity of third world nations - depends on the further opening of world markets.

 Containment will continue to be a successful strategy against rogue nations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  3) Evil Empires and rogue nations tend to change drastically with the passing of the Evil Emperor or the cadre of revolutionary leaders, whose ranks are almost always drastically thinned by the purges that take place during their power struggles. Existing leaders of all types - and especially the paranoid thugs themselves - want no putative Stalins or Saddam Husseins anywhere near the halls of power where they can pose a threat to the current leadership.
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  The Stalins and Maos of the world prefer non-threatening energetic order-takers as chief lieutenants. These apparatchiks are the men who are left to rule after the passing of the paranoid thug or the revolutionary cadre - and it is always in their interest to seek accommodation with the United States and the other democratic powers.
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  But Containment is not a pacifist strategy. It works only when - and only so long as - the containing powers retain clear military superiority and the will to use it. It is important to demonstrate that will - at least at advantageous times. With the exception of elite units, the conventional armed forces of the NATO powers - including the United States - steadily deteriorate as the Cold War fades further into history. There will come a time early in the 21st century when this weakness will prove dangerous.

  European military impotence has been amply demonstrated in Bosnia and Kosovo. However, the reemergence of military preparedness as an issue in the last presidential election is a hopeful sign that this particular futurecast will prove erroneous. FUTURECASTS ardently hopes to be proven wrong on this one.
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  (Vol. 6, No. 7, 1/1/04
.) Unfortunately, this forecast turned out to be all too true. The intelligence services - drastically weakened by a quarter century of pummeling by liberals in Congress - and the regular Army - that had all too few "boots" to put on the ground to consolidate the initial military victory in Iraq - demonstrated the feared inadequacy.

The major world powers will show an increasing aversion to involvements in major military conflicts.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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  4) The devastating potential for nuclear exchanges will continue to dampen military ardor in nuclear powers, both large and small. Only a nation unfortunate enough to fall under the control of a paranoid thug type of leader is likely to willingly take the risks of nuclear confrontation.
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  The tendency towards single son, and single child families in all the major world powers - including Russia and China - will dictate a hesitant attitude with respect to major military undertakings. When each dead soldier also means the death of a family - popular support for bloody military adventures must prove especially difficult to generate and maintain - even in autocratic nations.
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  Where large families remain the rule - generally in India and Africa and the Moslem nations stretching across the tropical deserts and jungles from Morocco to Indonesia - martial ardor is likely to flare - providing the world with periodic examples of the horrors of modern warfare.

  Unfortunately, there continues to be constant confirmation of this deplorable expectation.

  The growth of global capitalism will accentuate the benefits of peaceful commerce - decrease the importance of territory - and make militarism an unacceptable economic burden. Unfortunately, it may take a little while for this reality to become universally recognized - especially in Russia and China and some of the other Asian and African nations. 
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 Weapons of mass destruction will be used - but probably not in any major conflict.

 

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  5) Man's propensity to commit mayhem against his fellow man will continue into the 21st century. At least one nuclear weapon will be exploded in anger.
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  However, as horrendous as these instances will be, they will fall far short of the slaughter of 20th century conflicts. While the horror of these weapons will continue to inhibit the martial ardor of the major nuclear powers, and probably of the lesser nuclear powers as well, terrorists and the paranoid thugs that occasionally grab control of nations will not always be deterred from their use.

  ( Vol. 6, No. 7, 1/1/04.) There was an initial decline in international terrorism with the end of the Cold War. That decline is clearly a thing of the past now that Muslim militants have adopted terrorism as their primary military strategy and have created means of supporting it internationally sufficient to replace the support terrorists used to get from the Soviet Union. Most terrorism, however, is still aimed at domestic objectives.

The military strategy conundrum will continue to bedevil the armies of democratic nations.
(from Vol. 2, No. 4, 11/1/99)

 

Military tactics and strategy strives to multiply the effectiveness of military force by destroying or threatening the economic assets that support an opposing military force, even if that means attacking or threatening targets in heavily populated areas.

 

 

 

However, the political and diplomatic strategy practiced with spectacular success by the United States during the 20th century involves magnanimity towards old adversaries and good will towards peaceful nations.

 

This essentially non-threatening stance is obviously at odds with the level of ruthlessness often needed for the effective application of military force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  6) The tactical and strategic needs of the general will remain frequently at variance with the strategic needs of the political leadership.
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   As set forth in Military futurecast, military tactics and strategy strives to multiply the effectiveness of military force by destroying or threatening the economic assets that support an opposing military force - even if that means attacking or threatening targets in heavily populated areas.
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  However, the political and diplomatic strategy practiced with spectacular success by the United States during the 20th century involves magnanimity towards old adversaries and good will towards peaceful nations. This essentially non-threatening stance is obviously at odds with the level of ruthlessness often needed for the effective application of military force.
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  The differing needs of military and political strategy keep appearing throughout recorded history - sometimes with dramatic results, as one Julius Caesar discovered on the Ides of March a couple of thousand years ago. Perhaps the most dramatic example is the problems that arose between Napoleon the general and Napoleon the emperor.
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  Napoleon the general was ultimately undone by the dynastic ambitions of Napoleon the Emperor. He surrounded himself with energetic order takers of little tactical talent. Their most important attribute had to be that they posed no threat to his rule. His best and most successful lieutenant was consigned to command of a garrison city where he had little scope for further heroics - or public acclaim. A relative possessed of no apparent tactical talents was given command of the important southern wing of the massive army with which Napoleon marched into Russia. In the initial battle, this southern force moved in too dilatory a manner to cut off and trap the retreating Russian forces.
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  Modern dictators like Stalin, Hitler, and Saddam Hussein periodically sacked or purged their top military officers - with sometimes catastrophic results for their military efforts.
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  On the other hand, Napoleon the emperor was ultimately undone by the ambitions of and the fear and loathing evoked by Napoleon the general. This united all of Europe against France. Napoleon the emperor could not sack Napoleon the general. Ruthlessness in military doctrine similarly united the world against Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in the 20th century - and ultimately led to their defeat.
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  Democratic systems actually have an advantage in this regard. During wartime, any democratically elected government has a keen interest in military success and will seek out the best generals available to run the military effort. Lincoln, for example, repeatedly sacked his generals until he found three - Grant, Thomas and Sherman - who could fight. There are no dynastic considerations, and even a general with political aspirations or potential - like Grant or Eisenhower - will only be a temporary competitor for political office.
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  However, during peacetime, there is a tendency for democratic political leaders to promote "yes men" to the top military posts, so that the politicians will not be embarrassed by any military leaders who might disagree with such matters as defense policies, the state of military readiness or the way defense contracts are awarded.
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   It is in the most profound interests of the United States - as the world's only super power - to prevent fear and loathing of that power from becoming widespread. However, eschewing the advantages of military tactics and strategy restricts targeting to only adversary military forces and those transportation, communication, and economic assets that are exposed to military attack without "collateral damage." This can severely limit tactical options - as occurred recently in Kosovo. It can enmesh armies in futile and costly attrition warfare and permits the use of guerrilla tactics against them. The American people - rightly - will not long stand for this.
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  If the United States is going to consciously reject any use of military force that might cause substantial civilian casualties, it had better pick its battlefields and conflicts very carefully. It had better stay away from jungles - such as those in Africa and Columbia - where conflicts rage today. It had better stay out of any cities where a substantial proportion of the civilian population might not be disposed to receive it in a welcoming manner.

    ( Vol. 6, No. 7, 1/1/04.) This warning is proving all too prescient in Baghdad, today.

The waves of the 21st century are capitalism, multiparty democracy, limited government, and individual liberty.
(from Vol. 1, No. 1, 8/1/98)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  7) Dogmas of all sorts - both secular and religious - will continue to arouse passions and stimulate conflict amongst the nations of Africa and Asia. The keys for 21st century prospects are whether and how fast Russia and China can be brought into the modern capitalist, democratic world, so that commerce becomes more important to them than expansion of territorial control.
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  Most of the democracies of Europe and Latin America have experienced several failed attempts at democracy. Some may not yet have it quite right. The temptation to first try utopian or otherwise impractical forms of democracy that are ineffective or unstable is usually too great to be avoided. Even the United States failed in its first attempt, under its Articles of Confederation. However, periods of political instability in major nuclear powers like China and Russia pose vast dangers for the whole world.
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  The dominant economic and ideological pressures favor economic and political freedom and individual liberty. These pressures should grow exponentially with each new leadership generation.
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  Russia's current chaotic democratic efforts continue to survive beyond all expectation - offering increased hope with each succeeding reasonably honest election cycle. To free local economic and social processes from the smothering and corrupt control of local communist bosses, China has increasingly resorted to democratic processes to select new village leaders, and is now extending democracy to townships as well. The intervening years will at times prove chaotic, disappointing, and even dangerous, but both Russia and China will join the ranks of free nations by the end of the 21st century.

  Although prospects remain obviously dicey, it is noteworthy that both Russia and Indonesia responded to their recent periods of economic crisis with peaceful democratic changes of power.

The 21st century will be another great American century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  8) The essential economic and political virtues of the American Way of Life will - as set forth in the 21st Century futurecast - continue to prove their superiority and will continue to spread across the world. The Economic futurecast is that crony capitalism and single party democracy - while far superior to socialist or totalitarian alternatives - will almost always prove too corrupt and rigid to reap the cornucopia of material prosperity possible in a century of rapid and accelerating rates of technological change.
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  The inexorable pressures of capitalist markets and the natural popular aspirations for freedom and individual liberty will push reluctant political leaders toward forms of multiparty democracy, rule of law, and entrepreneurial capitalism. Slowly - reluctantly - under pressure from remorseless markets - governments all across Asia are being forced to make the changes needed for their next great surge towards prosperity. While the commercial and monetary systems of most European nations are becoming increasingly unified, they remain burdened with rigid protectionist and welfare state policies and a lack of labor mobility.

  European and Japanese markets are still not anywhere near as flexible and competitive as those in the U.S. Because venture capital markets are less developed, and new businesses quickly get enmeshed in the red tape of government industrial policy, it can take ten times as long and cost four times as much to start a new business in Europe as in the U.S.
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  However, the advent of the Euro and the internet are additional driving forces for economic rationalization that are having clearly observable results. Governments are adopting commercially friendly tax reforms and labor market reforms, venture capital is expanding, and U.S. management styles are spreading widely.
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  Growing inequality between rich nations and poor nations is primarily the fault of poor nation governance - although reductions in rich nation tariffs would certainly help. The UN's estimate for trade lost by poor nations due to rich nation tariffs is a staggering $700 billion. However, the poor stay poor primarily because their governments are crooked - are engaged in ongoing military conflicts - have bad policies - or lack the will or ability to implement good policies.
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  When nations avoid wars, tackle corruption, cut inflation, cut public spending, and adopt policies friendly to commerce, this always spurs economic growth - and this economic growth always improves the lot of their poor. Until the political conditions for prosperity are met, the provision of money, technology transfers, and other aid is a waste - and perhaps worse - may actually do harm by helping maintain oppressive political structures. After the political conditions for prosperity are met - at least to some reasonable extent -  prosperity will flourish naturally.

  There will be many temporary failures but - as explained in the Government futurecast - most nations will have no alternative but to keep trying until they achieve a practical - stable form of multiparty democracy with an independent judiciary at least for commercial disputes, and a capitalist system that facilitates commerce and encourages entrepreneurial activities.

  Capitalist economic systems and democratic political systems have continued to thrive and spread even further throughout the world during these last 2 1/2 years. Increasing numbers of nations are turning over to reasonably independent judicial tribunals the powers of constitutional and administrative review and jurisdiction over commercial disputes and questions of contract law and property rights. Even the sense of individual liberty is quietly spreading around the world.
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  Economic freedom, political freedom, individual liberty, and limited government, are all central pillars of the American Way of Life. Their spread - suitably adapted for local conditions - will spread broadly the blessings of the American Way of Life.
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  It's going to be another great American Century!

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   Copyright 2001 Daniel Blatt