A Blog which serves as my record for analyses and predictions I have made concerning world events, as well as a place where people can discuss them and their own opinions on the matter.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rerum Novarum: Of New Things, and a New World

Rerum Novarum:
Of New Things

Ryan Tepperman

(Introduction written May 2007;
major analysis and predictions written from June 13--July 2007)

Of late, the world has been a troubled place. Things which have been constant for many years, sometimes even decades, have been coming to an end; nor is this process even close to complete: it will continue over the course of the next couple years. Why? Because the world is entering a new time, a new era of sorts. No longer shall it be the post-cold war, post-9/11, post-anything era, but one altogether its own. It is during the years 2007 and 2008 that one can see the first beginnings of this new historical period, and it will likely be fully realized by the year 2011. In essence, the next four years will see significant political change throughout the world; change so significant, it will result in an international system quite different from the one in use today.

Why will this happen? In truth, there is no reason that it must happen. But there is a great deal of evidence which says that it is likely to happen. Why? Because this is the way history seems to work. At certain points in time, a number of factors converge together, and the result is a radically changed world. Economic, political, social, cultural factors, as well as individuals, all play a role in this, and no two points of change are really the same. But here’s what is key: they are similar. Whether it be the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, the outbreak of WWII, the end of Pax Britannica, or any other pivotal event which changes the course of history, they all share one common characteristic: important trends which have been staples of society, such as stable economic growth, or perhaps certain ideas, are dying. They are ending, and new trends are being born, and as a result, the world shifts. That is what is occurring right now: long-existing trends are dying, their flames reduced to mere embers, while other trends, trends which have been dormant or run directly contrary to the long-lasting ones, are soaring upwards in strength. What I endeavor to do here is show that the world is changing drastically, and that the pillars which provide the foundations of the current international system are not merely collapsing: they are becoming irrelevant.

Declining National/Regional Trends
[1] (This section written between June 13-15, 2007)

Let us begin the examination of the era shift by looking at the nation/regional specific trends which appear to be coming to a close, and the probable results of their ending.

The United States

First, there is the United States. In 2008, there will be a new presidential election, ushering in an administration which will inevitably be radically different from the current administration. Very different policies and people will be running the show for the first time since 9/11; thus ends the trend of George Bush’s policies and actions, one which has been progressing through the post-9/11 period. Of specific importance, is that the aggressive, expansionist policy the Bush administration has pursued will not be followed by the next President (the very policy having led, according to common wisdom, to the President becoming quite unpopular). Therefore, the nations which even today are pushing against the US and are attempting to gain regional hegemon status, assert themselves more forcefully, or are generally behaving aggressively (nations such as China, Iran, and Russia)—and whether they are doing so because they feel the US started it, because they wish for more power, or because they simply feel that they are reclaiming what was rightfully theirs, is irrelevant here— will be more likely to succeed at their goals. More importantly, they will be more willing to commit to aggressive policies than at any time since the end of the Cold War. And this event may in turn mark the beginning of the end of the US being the world’s lone superpower; at the very least, it will mark a recession of indeterminate time in US power. This is supported more specifically by the second major US trend which is ending: the trend of Iraq.

The second trend which will end was born from American involvement in Iraq. By the end of 2008 (if not by the end of 2007), America will have either stabilized the country, or withdrawn most, if not all, of its troops. In either case, by the end of 2008 most major American formations stationed in Iraq will be withdrawn, or be considered for withdrawal. This is for several reasons, both tactical and strategic in nature. First, there is the simple fact that a large number of troops grouped in one place will inevitably be exposed to indirect fire attacks and ambushes. As long as jihadists are capable of infiltrating into Iraq, there is no way to prevent an attack against American bases from occurring. And as long as some Americans are being killed, or come under attack at least once a week, there will be building pressure to pull these troops out as well. Therefore, since any large American formation stationed in one place (and said place will need to be within driving range of a city for the force to actually influence events inside Iraq) will be vulnerable to indirect fire, it can be assumed that there will be an irresistible pressure to withdraw them. The only way this pressure can be countered is by the troops having a purpose which makes their deaths worth it to the public. However, the current rationale for maintaining a troop presence in Iraq is itself of a non-permanent nature: the troops are remaining inside Iraq to stabilize it, and if they left it would become a bloodbath, with al-Qaeda re-establishing itself amidst the chaos. Therefore, the mission is to only make sure Iraq won’t completely dissolve once the US leaves. Once the opposition to the war can effectively argue that Iraq has been sufficiently stabilized, there is simply no rationale that is politically supportable to allow troops to remain in the country.

The result of a troop withdrawal will likely have ramifications to US foreign policy similar to post-Vietnam policy. Now, though many of the comparisons drawn between Iraq and Vietnam are of debatable veracity, from an exclusively international relations standpoint, it seems reasonable to say that post-Iraq policy will be similar to post-Vietnam policy in one crucial regard. That is, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, American foreign policy will withdraw into itself, lessening drastically in both scope and intensity, for at least one full year: and this is all the time that is needed for the new trends to arise.

And Iraq is not the only reason America will withdraw from the world. In truth, Americans seem to have grown tired of being involved in the world, tired of shouldering its burdens. After having a foreign policy which places emphasis on caring for people, not for any possible gain, but simply to help them, for two full generations (beginning with the presidency of Jimmy Carter); another full generation taken actively helping the poor, deprived, and diseased in the world; and three consecutive generations of worrying about and taking into account every single little country, from Somalia to Japan; they are simply tired of it. After seeing so many dead from genocides, pointless wars waged by maniacs, and now thousands of their own dead in a war the US went into for reasons which don’t seem to matter much anymore, they are tired.
Moreover, it should be noted that this withdrawal from the international scene is indeed quite common for the US. It occurs after most wars which have taxed both the military and the nation; it occurred after WWI, after WWII (until 1947), and, as mentioned, after the Vietnam War. So what does this mean? Well, it does not mean the US will become completely isolationist.
[2] The US will not dismantle the State Department, nor will it cease having an active foreign policy. It will continue to have opinions on the state of the world. But it will not really attempt to act or enforce them, except in places inherently associated with security of the homeland, such as the Western Hemisphere, and this is key. The US will attempt to protect its position, but it will not attempt to expand its power. In essence, the US will adopt a foreign policy which is defensive in nature. What this means, is that the US will not attempt to influence things inside nations: there will be far fewer attempts at creating color revolutions, spreading democracy. In tense situations analogous to Kosovo, the US may extend recognition to the state, but it will not bring to bear sufficient pressure to influence the situation. On issues which have little direct relevance to the US, but great relevance to global security, the US will no longer be inclined to become decisively involved. As for military deployments to new dangerous areas—those may cease completely; there is certainly no appetite for what may be termed “military adventures.” The actions of a turtle as an analogy for US policy may prove illustrative for the reader: the US will withdraw into its shell for a bit, and though half its body will be in direct contact with the rest of the world, it will not be in a position to directly influence the world. Thus, at a time of rising social, economic, and political change, the ability of the US to exert power and influence over the world will be severely diminished.

Thus, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the US will withdraw substantially from the international arena, at a time when other states are rising in power and dominance, breaking old trends as well. Therefore, the world’s only superpower will not be able to stop this new era from forming. Much as how neither Britain nor France proved able to stop the changing world of the 1930s, with the centralization of power around Stalin and Communism, as well as the rise of Hitler and Mussolini and the spread of Fascism, so too will the US prove unable and unwilling to stop change from sweeping the world, once again. And change will occur. In the present international system, the US is the sole superpower in the world; the entire international structure is based on this, being called the unipolar world, as every college freshman knows. But who knows what will happen if that crucial thing that fundamentally makes up the current world order, that piece of the puzzle which provides the support for everything else—what happens to the international order if it suddenly disappears? What happens if the lone superpower in the world stops using its power to influence the larger world? It would seem that the only logical answer is that the system would have to change. To add to the strength of this change, however, many major trends in other countries are already beginning to drastically change.


In Russia, a new President will be elected in 2008, one who will be at the very least quite different from Vladimir Putin. Putin has been in power since before 9/11 occurred, and
has guided Russia since, centralizing power around himself and the state. Whoever succeeds him will likely lead differently, meaning the policies of Russia will likely change quite a bit from what they presently are. Even if Putin remains in power, he will lead differently, as shall be elaborated on later. Russia is likely to become more aggressive than it has been since the Cold War ended, and yet will also withdraw into itself more. By this it is meant that Russian policy will focus on certain regional areas to the exclusion of all else, as it deals with problems at home. Thus, Russian antagonism should not be seen as a new Cold War, for that was a global conflict of allegiances and ideologies; instead, it should be seen as the re-assertion of Russian “regionalism”, of the kind practiced throughout much of the 19th century (the Crimean War being a case in point). Indeed, it is natural for many to believe that if Russia centralizes around one leader, rebuilding the vast land will require reasserting influence over the bordering states. After all, was it not the abandonment of these very areas at the end of the Cold War which led to Russia’s terrible decline in the 1990s? Many will find it easy to believe so, and there is likely some truth to their claims. Examples of this expansionist tendency after great turmoil are littered throughout Russian history, whether during the 1920s when the Soviet Union invaded Poland, or when Peter the Great expanded the borders of Russia during the 18th century. A similar pattern of modernization, and then expansion, is apparent throughout. Unlike the Cold War, Russia will not commit large sums of money and material to places such as Cuba, Yemen, or even Syria. Rather, power will be concentrated at the borders of the Russian Federation. Therefore, the Caucuses and Eastern Europe will be the main focus of Russia, and interests elsewhere will be less vigorously pursued, if not dropped altogether. Central Asia will remain a concern, but as always, it will be of peripheral importance.

With regards to Putin himself, he has always seemed to be in one sense an unwilling reformer of Russia, centralizing power because there were no other good choices available; at least, this appears to be the view of the Russian public at large. The next ruler cannot be assumed to be as reluctant to rule as Putin; rather, he
* is likely to approach the subject brutally and with little/less subtly. And even if, as some have postulated, Vladimir Putin decides to change the constitution and run for a third term, he will also operate differently, because he will have openly made the choice to become a dictator, and abandon attempts at democratic reforms. The entire world will know exactly who and what he is, and will adopt policies accordingly. Concurrently, it is also likely that the Russian energy industry will peak in usefulness to the state between the end of 2008, and the middle of 2009; in addition, it should be expected that industries which have also been under state ownership for a similar duration will also peak. This is because foreign investment has been steadily discouraged, as Gazprom and other state-run companies continually re-negotiate their contracts to be more favorable to themselves. As a result, the new President of Russia will be forced to further consolidate businesses under the state in order to maintain a cash flow necessary to achieve budget goals detailed for 2009 & 2010. And so ends the trend of Russia’s brief flirtation with democratic rule, while the old trend of Russian autocrats re-asserts itself for the duration.

The United Kingdom

Meanwhile, in Britain in 2007 a new prime minister will be in office for the first time since 1997, and that man will likely be less “friendly” to the rest of the world than Tony Blair has been. This means Gordon Brown will be more interested in improving the economy (his forte, as Chancellor of the Exchequer) than in improving relations with Russia or the EU; indeed, he is noted as being skeptical of both. In order to not quickly fall from power for the same reasons Tony Blair did, Brown will have to differentiate himself greatly from Blair, and thus change his government in some important aspects. In all likelihood, Britain will follow the trend of the US in withdrawing from important parts of the world, and may very well pay less attention to the EU than they would otherwise. The latter depends, of course, on the crucial issue of whether the British view the policies of the EU as part of their “domestic” agenda, or part of foreign policy. However, according to election data, it would seem that the latter is likely true, as polling data provided by BBC indicates that only 6% of UK voters feel that the EU is a top priority matter. To conclude, it is likely that Gordon Brown will prove to be a relatively competent leader; however he, and Britain as a whole, will not have an active foreign policy. This in turn means that the US will not be able to rely extensively on its chief ally to ensure that the status quo in Europe continues.


In France, Nicholas Sarkozy has been elected President in 2007, succeeding a man who has been in power since 1995, and who was a prominent Gaullist. With this succession comes the end of de Gaullism, which had been prevalent in French policy since the 1950s. None of the election candidates were Gaullists, and Sarkozy is widely regarded as the most pro-American politician in France. His policies call for radical change in institutions which have formed the pillars of both the French economy and French society since the 1960s. With the absence of de Gaullism, French policy will also change and focus more on regional issues in Europe, rather than world problems. Thus ends the trend of what some would call French “over-involvement” in the world (that is, acting as if France had more power and deserved more influence in world affairs than they truly had), while a new trend begins with a focus on European affairs, but not necessarily EU affairs. It should be noted that this will somehow result in France simultaneously playing less of a role in world affairs and a greater role in world affairs (a paradox which is in keeping with French eccentricity). By utilizing their hard and soft power in concentrations, rather than scattering it to focus on both issues of contention in the EU and issues of contention with the United States, France will actually stand to be more influential on issues of decisive importance than it previously has been. However, its overall continual influence on global affairs will be lessened due to this concentration. For example, Africa, which France has been interested in for many decades due to colonial ties, will receive less continued attention from French policy than in previous decades, while France will pay more attention to the going-ons of Europe and Russia.


At the end of 2005 in Germany Angela Merkel was elected Chancellor, over Gehard Schroeder, who had been in office since 2000. To date, the policies she has pursued have resulted in Germany assuming a far more active leadership role in Europe and the world. Most importantly, these policies are often pursued with German interests being of primary, uncompromising importance, and the issues of Europe being secondary. This wipes out the trend which had been dominant in German affairs, where German nationalism was either inactive or suppressed. Now, it is back, and the 50+ year old trend of nonexistent German nationalism is at an end.

One can see this plainly enough: during the 1990s, German soccer fans would, for the first time, wave the old German flag during games; previously, they had been too embarrassed to do so. Now this nationalism has finally gained enough steam to overtake the old politics of the day, and one can see this well enough simply by looking at German foreign policy. Since the end of World War II, German policy has largely been aligned with one country or another, usually the United States or France. It would act in a supporting role on issues which did not occur directly inside of Germany, such as Kosovo. Now, Germany is taking the lead on many political issues, such as global climate change and European integration, while becoming increasingly powerful and influential economically in Europe. This means that Germany is now likely to assume a larger role in the world of international politics (whereas previously it had limited itself mainly to following France’s lead), and a far greater role in Europe, meaning that it will increasingly clash with other nations on policies, as it pursues its own objectives and interests. This will not be helped by the fact that there are a great many states now in the EU whose population vividly remembers Germany as a vindictive occupier and evil oppressor during WWII, and may be inclined to view this as a resurgence of German aggression. In addition, the rising economic growth of Germany may very well be looked at jealously by many states throughout Europe who are in the midst of economic troubles or stagnation. The fate of the European Union depends on whether all EU member states will accept, however reluctantly, a powerful, independent Germany, as one of their own, as a leader of Europe.


By 2008 the slow economic growth of Italy will likely have devolved into a general economic downturn, possibly forcing the country to withdraw somewhat from the EU, and focus on domestic priorities (to an even greater extent than usual). During this downturn one of three outcomes will likely occur: first, the democratic system of government will prevail and those elected will manage to fix the problem while maintaining the Republican institutions of Italy. Alternately, an individual or political party could rise from obscurity and stabilize the economy and political power, likely by centralizing both. If neither of these occur, Italy will find itself ever further from other centers of power, and become increasingly irrelevant to European politics. Of the three options, the probability is that the third possibility will occur, and if after several years have past and the situation is still bad, then the second possibility will take place. For the past fifty years Italian leaders haven’t done a particularly good job of keeping the economy competitive, maintaining the country as a major player in European affairs, or keeping politics and business separate; thus it is unlikely that more of the same would solve the problems facing Italy. Furthermore Italy has not had a strong, central leader since Mussolini; one could in fact say that they are about due for another one. All that is necessary is for their nationalism to be stirred up once again, and the Muslims migrating to Italy will eventually cause this. If German nationalism can rise again, so too can Italian nationalism. One way or another, the trend of Italian involvement in European and world affairs will likely change drastically.


In Taiwan in 2008, a new president will be elected, changing power from one who has held office since 2000 to a new person. The new president, based on current polling data about the two parties, is like to come from the Kumointang, and is likely to be less belligerent towards the People’s Republic of China. This will likely result in a China that is freer to throw its weight around the region, as well as closer relations between the two Chinas.


In Japan, at the end of 2006 a new Prime Minister was elected, one who appears to be intent on increasing the Japanese military; he is not alone in this, and seems to have the support of both the Japanese Diet and an ever increasingly large proportion of the populace. To this end, it is likely that by the end of 2011, the Peace Article in the Japanese constitution will be repealed/amended. Thus, for the first time in decades, Japan will begin seriously re-arming, breaking the 50-year old trend of pacifism. However, it should be noted that such re-arming would not occur with the intent of invasion; it will occur partially as a result of waning US power in the region, and partially as the result increasingly belligerent China, not to mention fears concerning the Korean Peninsula. The primary factor, however, will be a recession in the Japanese economy during this time period (already slow on growth), which would cause Japan to aggressively defend and make claim to territories and resources they feel are rightfully theirs; territories which during peaceful times they would not have made much commotion over.


In the People’s Republic of China, events which have been in motions since the early 1990s, if not before, will come to a head in 2008. By the end of 2008, the leaders of China will have to decide what to do with the large part of the surplus of money they have, at risk of it being devalued. Internally, there is the ever-growing unrest in the countryside, with China officially reporting that while there were 10,000 “mass incidents” (protests, petitions, mass demonstrations, and riots) in 1994, there were 58,000, 74,000, and 87,000 such incidents in 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively, with the actual numbers likely being far larger. Then there is the specific problem of rural unrest, with it being reported that in 2003 there were a total of 140 million people moving from the countryside to urban areas, which will bring into closer contact the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, another problem China needs to deal with. Furthermore, while China is attempting to deal with these problems, by early 2009 (if not 2008), with a new American administration in place, they will likely have to deal with the prospect of serious American tariffs, adding another problem to their plate. And finally, there is a potential problem that might occur, which does not appear to have drawn the attention of Chinese leaders: the possible collapse of the Chinese stock markets. The Shanghai, Hong Kong and other Chinese stock markets have in recent years been released from many restrictions the government had placed on investment. As a result, there has been a tremendous surge in investment in these stock markets by the middle class, with many pouring their life-savings into stocks. However, Chinese stock markets are now exhibiting some of the same features which lead the American stock market to collapse in 1929. Specifically, there are two similarities which are quite dangerous, and perhaps make the collapse inevitable.

First, there is the effect that the Chinese markets have simply been growing for a very long time, and that it will be only natural for them to continue to grow; that stocks will inevitably move up, and that movements downward are only temporary. As a result, domestic investors (as well as foreign investors, drawn by the promise of greater capital returns) have invested in many securities which are fundamentally unsound; the same thing happened in the American stock market before the Collapse of 1929. Second, and of far more importance is the issue of corruption. The American economy, by the time of the Collapse, had been due for a recession; what made the Collapse so bad however, was in large part corruption in the government and main investment firms. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, for example, would not willingly move take actions which would allow the New York Stock Exchange to enter a recession when it was necessary, instead allowing the market forces to build pressure until it was all released in one tidal way. This was simply because he had major investments in securities in the stock market, and if he took serious action against the market, he would be hurting himself. The same held true for many of the major bankers and heads of companies at the time. As a result, they often refused to give credence to information which indicated a recession was coming, which lead directly to the Collapse. An extremely similar situation exists in China: corruption pervades the Communist government, and those who often gain power often use their positions to accumulate more personal wealth for themselves. In the Chinese Stock Markets, where great pools of money collect, this undoubtedly holds true as well. Therefore, in order to protect their own wealth, these officials are likely to withhold or minimize information concerning a recession until it is too late.

Of greatest importance for China, however, is the fact that the Olympics will be held in Beijing in 2008. This is of enormous value to China, as they feel that they will lose an incalculable amount of face if it does not go perfectly. Never before has China had to put forward its best foot in the view of the world; if everything goes right, Chinese leaders seem to believe, they will have proven either that they are equal to the West, or superior. Therefore, everything will be dropped in 2007 and 2008 in order to ensure that the Olympics goes off without a hitch; thus tasks which would have normally been performed will be left half-finished or undone, as all efforts are directed toward the Olympics. Considering the internal problems which have occupied the government’s attention for so long, shifting attention away from them could well prove dangerous, if not deadly.

If everything goes well, China may feel that it has earned its place in the world; however, it is likely to become more-aggressive, in response both to increased nationalism from the 2008 Olympics and an increasingly aggressive Japan, and will likely withdraw somewhat from the wider world (in which it has never had any particularly great amount of interest), in order to focus on the immediate area surrounding China: specifically South-East Asia and the Far East. However, as has been noted previously, China also has a massive number of problems at home, ranging from widespread corruption to increasing social discontent in both rural and urban areas. As a result, it is likely that instead of stepping further into the arena of international politics, China will by the time of the Olympics, have reversed its trend of engagement with the outside world, a trend which has been in progress since around 1990, and instead focus on domestic problems. The result of this, in turn, is a China which is far more guarded, and responds bitingly to criticism. There is even a good chance that it will be a China which is on the verge of collapse, due to these internal problems. Thus, in South-East Asia the trend of focusing on trade and regional security will also end, to be replaced by what is likely a permanent escalation of tensions in the region, lasting at the very least well through the next decade.


In Pakistan, President Musharaff’s government, which has been in power since 1999, will have fallen from power by the end of 2008 (if it does not do so by the end of 2007). For too long, Musharaff has allowed Islamist militants to infiltrate into Pakistani cities, and this cannot remain tenable for long. In any conflict between the Islamists and the Pakistani government, Musharaff cannot emerge as the hero of the struggle; it must be either the Islamists, someone against both Musharaff and the Islamists, or someone in the Pakistani government at the forefront of the fight. Whoever rises to power in his stead will likely need at least a year to centralize and stabilize power around themselves (the time most Pakistani governments seem to have required after coups before they begin effective governing). This new government will be radically different from Musharaff in their policies, agenda, and methods of carrying out/enforcing their decisions. They will likely be less friendly toward the US than Musharaff has been, and this will contribute to the creation of a more volatile situation on the sub-continent. Alternatively, a democratic government could succeed Musharaff, though this is unlikely. Historically speaking, it is very rare that exiles come back to power in their nations as democratic leaders; instead, they are usually sidelined; and currently, exiles seem to be the leaders of Pakistan’s democratic movement. Whatever the case, Pakistan is likely to have changed a great deal by the end of 2008; the old trends, which had Pakistan pursuing a course in which domestic problems were ignored in favor of stability, will be at an end. Instead, much of their time will be focused on dealing with internal problems. Moreover, Pakistan will also break out of the limbo between dictatorship and democracy which has been prevalent over the past eight years. Whichever path it chooses, it will stick by for some time to come.


In all likelihood by 2008 India will also have become less friendly with the US because of the fall through of the nuclear deal between the two countries. More importantly however, India will be facing domestic population problems, the threat of an overheating economy, a volatile Pakistan, and the recurring attacks by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. In all likelihood, if the global economy enters a recession (or at the very least, the regional economy), as it eventually will, India will return to having its foreign policy focus exclusively on Pakistan, with the result that the two states will likely have each other as their main focus for the next decade. In the event the global economy does not enter a recession, then it is likely that India will continue to expand both the scope of its foreign policy and its power. Whatever the case, the trend which has been constant since the early 1990s, where India had broad, mostly amorphous foreign policy interests and objectives, will be at an end.


In Israel, by the end of 2007 Prime Minister Olmert will have either stepped down or been forced to resign. In his place, a new prime minister will be elected, one likely to be more aggressive than either Ariel Sharon or Olmert, thus ending the policy of accommodation and negotiation that the two utilized with their Arab neighbors, and the Palestinians. In addition, by the summer/end of 2008 (if not by the summer of 2007), Israel will have finished re-arming, re-training, and re-equipping the Israeli military to fight a conventional war against a fortified enemy, while the substantial might of Israeli intelligence will have turned most of its attention to infiltrating Hezbollah and Lebanon. These factors all mean that Israel will become more aggressive in the future, and will likely engage in war with at least one of its neighbors (likely Palestine or Lebanon) by the end of 2008 or 2009.


In Ukraine elections will occur in 2008 as well. By election day, it is quite probable that President Yuschenko will have either fallen from power, or been rendered politically irrelevant. It is possible he could consolidate power around himself in an autocratic manner, but by doing so he would abandon any support he could hope to get from the West. In addition, considering that he has not centralized power around the office of the Presidency, and that he was brought to power by what has been called a democratic revolution, it becomes even more apparent that he is unlikely to become the unopposed leader of Ukraine. As a result of the 2008 elections, it is likely that Ukraine will shift in roles from being an independent, sovereign nation with close ties to both Russia and the West, to become a point of serious contention in European and Russian politics. In all likelihood, Ukraine will regress to become, if not a part of Russia, then a nation with very, very strong ties to Russia. Ukraine will act as a catalyst for tensions between Russia and Europe; not, it should be noted, the final catalyst, but merely one more straw on the camel’s back.

Africa and South America

Africa and South America must be mentioned here of course, containing together an estimated 1.2 billion people, or 1/5 of the world population.
[3] However, neither continent has ever really been a serious purposeful force on the international scene: instead, they have primarily been the battlegrounds and mines of the major nations of the time. Indeed, most foreign policy actions undertaken by nations in these two continents are not aggressive initiatives, but are defensively reactive in nature. Thus, while the rest of the world is changing, South America and Africa have mostly retained consistent positions in the scheme of the world: actors who do not act themselves, but are instead acted upon. As a result, there are no real set of trends ending in either continent, and for both South America and Africa, no real signs that any new trends are emerging which would change the way politics in their areas operate.[4] South America will therefore continue to consist of a series of feuding states for the duration of this period. As well, it is most likely that Africa will remain the same as it always has: disunited, and controlled only on the surface.


Then there is the movement, the organization which has drastically altered the world: Al-Qaeda. Meaning “the base” in Arabic, it is the entity which helped create the post-9/11 world, and by the summer of 2008 (indeed, likely by the end of 2007), it will have ceased to matter as an organization on the stage of the world political scene. In February of 2007, Al-Zawahiri, the de facto head of Al-Qaeda communicated that the Taliban was now the leader of the world-wide jihadist movement, placing Al-Qaeda strategically under the Taliban. This means Al-Qaeda has officially been reduced to a tactical force, fighting battles not to topple the governments of the Arab states and re-establish the Caliphate, but to win small pieces of territory. The goal of the Taliban is to re-capture Afghanistan, and possibly gain control of Pakistan, not plan major strikes against the United States and its European allies. While the movement is increasingly splintered, making it harder to track down and eliminate members of the organization, the real threat from Al-Qaeda was always its ability to launch strategic attacks against the US; the jihadists tried to create a new world by flying two planes into the Twin Towers and one into the Pentagon, killing thousands—and they partially succeeded. Bombing US embassies, sinking the USS Cole, those did not result in the invasion of Afghanistan and the re-direction of all available resources to hunt down Al-Qaeda; the 9/11 attacks did. The former is something that the splinter groups of Al-Qaeda may be able to do. As an entity capable of planning and carrying out strategic strikes on the scale of the latter, however, Al-Qaeda is no more. This is not to say that Al-Qaeda is harmless; on the contrary: to individuals, it is more dangerous than ever, due to its diffuse nature. This is the key point: it can still hurt individuals, but it can no longer threaten nations. George Tenet, former Director of Central Intelligence, says in his memoirs/book that he believes Al-Qaeda could probably launch a coordinated gunman attack on half-a dozen malls across the US, if they wanted to. Sad as it would be, this wouldn’t change the strategic situation overly: at worst, it would cause a limited and renewed campaign to hunt down Al-Qaeda; it would neither change nor challenge the fundamental structure of the world order, which is what 9/11 did. Indeed, the US would probably react in the same way even if Al-Qaeda managed to launch another attack on the scale of 9/11. Thus, if Al-Qaeda cannot launch a strategic attack that actually surpasses 9/11 in magnitude and scale of destruction, then they have lost the ability to change the international system, and have thus ceased to be a strategic force, the only kind of force that matters in this analysis.

This is not to say that Al-Qaeda could not quickly regenerate into a force capable of launching WMD attacks against the US; merely, that over the next five years, such an occurrence is unlikely to happen. Thus ends the trend of strategic terrorism implemented by Al-Qaeda, putting to death the last of the trends which maintain the current world order, and opening the way for a new era. Yet, though Al-Qaeda may have essentially devolved into groups of anarchists, its actions have also revealed the existence of another regional trend, the last regional trend discussed in this paper. It is one which not only appears to have gone unnoticed, but one which is growing more powerful and dangerous by the day: extremely strong discontent about the status quo by populations in the Middle East.

Revolt in the Middle East
[5] (This section was written between November 14-15, 2007.)

In looking at Al-Qaeda, most analysts, indeed, most nations, have only seen an enemy. An enemy who wishes to destroy the present order, rip apart the status quo, and go back to old times of glory. And they are correct in believing this, for this is most assuredly the goal of Al-Qaeda and its ilk. But what has so often been missed, simply by categorizing them as the enemy, is the fact that they are people. And I cannot stress this enough. Al-Qaeda is a group made up of people; people with lives that have been filled with many events before they ever took up the cause of fighting for something. By labeling Al-Qaeda as a hated enemy, one who threatens our very way of life, we have been able to cheer when we hear that someone who has been linked to them has been killed, despite not knowing in the least what kind of life they have lived. In doing so, we stopped caring about what they believed in, why they were fighting, and looked no farther in seeking answers than the surface. And as a result, something extraordinarily important has gone unnoticed, a fact which alters all dimensions of the War on Terror: Al-Qaeda is only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, most of their methods and beliefs are quite radical, and they deserve to be condemned and tried for their crimes, but this is why they don’t have a clear majority of support among the populations of most Muslim states. Where Al-Qaeda really derives its support from, what Al-Qaeda really is fighting for, is because the status quo is not satisfactory. Al-Qaeda has shown that the people who inhabit the Middle East have tired of the status quo; they want change. Al-Qaeda has been unusually violent in pursuing its goals, and follows their religious principles to an extent most don’t agree with. But the core concept they pursue is supported: the desire for drastic change in the way things are. Because the fact of the matter is for a long time, things have been bad for most people in the Middle East, and they haven’t really been getting better. More to the point, they have discovered that life has been getting better for everyone else, and from these two things, a great deal of rage and discontent has been generated.

Moreover, when Al-Qaeda attacks America, they aren’t cheered on simply because they have been inflamed by religious rhetoric, or because they have been indoctrinated to believe that the Americans are infidels, to be cleansed from the Earth. Some people cheer out of these beliefs, but most do not. Al-Qaeda is cheered on mostly because of the belief that Americans are occupiers: not simply that there are Americans physically on the land, but that it is the Americans who are at fault for the way everything is, because that is where, by and large, most governments have laid the blame (though doing so has made them look weak to an extent, and thus furthered discontent about the government). And it is quite convincing too, because these governments are supported by the US. Even if one believes that America is not fundamentally responsible for all one’s problems, (which is easy to do, as much of the rage against America can easily slip over into rage against the government) that it is more the fault of their government than the US, one would still come to the conclusion that in order to get any change to occur, the US would need to be dealt with. Because if a government falls, then the US will simply swoop in to prop up the government; thus no chance of a revolution can have any chance of success if the US is not first dealt with. After all, if the Americans could defeat Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf War with such ease, and prop up the government of Kuwait afterword, then surely they would be able to successfully defend the existing governments.

But now we have arrived at the great irony here: Iraq. For all its success in defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq, in splintering the movement worldwide, the US’s involvement there has caused/demonstrated two things. First, the involvement of the US in Iraq, and after the 9/11 attacks, to a certain extent as well, to bring a tremendous amount of pressure to bear on the kingdoms of the Middle East to cease denouncing it, to cease blaming it, and to crack down on Al-Qaeda, those “freedom fighters” fighting it. As a result, most of these countries have been forced, by and large, to cease blaming the US for their problems, and even to brand Al-Qaeda, an organization whose sentiments many of them had previously encouraged, as traitorous. As a result, the blame for the status quo has been shifted squarely onto the shoulders of in its entirety. In addition, the US has also demonstrated through Iraq, something of great importance: even if the US does become involved supporting the government against a rebellion, its involvement need not be decisive. The US, it can easily be stereotyped, is weak; it depends too much on machines, it cannot deal well with insurgencies, and it is not morally equipped to deal with a real war. At the very least, an uprising, if it can overcome the government, will have a chance at success.

Thus, as a result a result of these two realizations, the way is open for direct moves against governments in the Middle East by the populace. Moreover, as the governments of the Middle East begin to allow restrictions on the rights of citizens to be eased, as they begin to liberalize more, they will expose themselves even further to revolt, with the populace demanding more freedom, more change. But the governments here will by and large fail to keep up with this demand: deliberately so, for to liberalize to the extent the populace desires, would be to threaten the very power of the leaders of these states; power which has in many cases, been relegated to either them or their families for several decades, and which is now regarded by these leaders as rightfully theirs. And from this refusal, the sparks of rebellion will flare, sparks which will find ample fuel amidst the discontent swirling throughout the land. The embers will become first a fire, and then a blaze in the heart of the land. A blaze which will, to paraphrase the words of one man, speaking in a different time about a different place, “Bring the whole rotten structure crumbling down.”

So here is the fact of the matter: that even if the US does succeed in annihilating Al-Qaeda, and other radical terrorist groups like them, the kingdoms of the Middle East will still be overthrown. The center cannot hold. Historical precedents are everywhere. In the 1880s, anarchists were a prevalent terrorist problem in Russia; they were ultimately crushed, but the message they promoted, that Russia needed change, was taken up by the Communists within thirty years. The result of this is that change on a scale not seen since the 1970s is coming to the Middle East. When may be in doubt. It could be this year, it could be in ten. But that the seeds have been planted, on this there can be no doubt.

Global Trends
[6] (The Global Economy section was written between July 2-July 9, 2007. The Infrastructure Section was written on June 13, 2007.)

There are of course changing trends which do not just touch one country or region, but span the world. These trends are quite important, in that they are global in nature; thus their effects are felt everywhere. In a sense, these are the overarching trends which form the foundation of the current world order. And in order for the current order to end, they too must either change, or be, in the words of one person who changed history, “Thrown into the dustbin of history.”

The Global Economy

The first global trend is the world economy. Historically speaking, changes in the economy have often accompanied drastic changes in the world. Changes in the British economy during the mid-18th century (changes influenced a great deal by the treasure spent on the French-Indian War), resulted in greater taxation, and led to one of the prime impetuses for the American Revolution. A poor French treasury resulting from the expenditures incurred by the French fighting in that war also helped contribute to discontent in France, and this discontent lead in turn to the French Revolution in 1789. The Great Depression would lead to the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, and the humbling of France and Britain, allowing those two men to gain power and thus leading directly to World War II. The Bretton Woods agreement signed after WWII and the creation of the World Bank would lead to a Europe which had collectively tied their economies to that of the US, which contributed to the steadfast position of the US regarding Europe, which resulted in the Cold War. And it was a change in the economy which led to the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, giving birth to the post-Cold War era. The list goes on and on. Thus, it would seem likely that a change in the economy will also accompany a shift from the post-9/11 world to a new world, and thus, we can see that the world economy will have likely entered a major recession by the year 2011, if not by the end of 2008.

Currently, the success and prosperity of the major nations in the world economy relies primarily on several factors: the continuing development and exploitation of emerging/developing markets, also known as globalization; the flow of cheap credit throughout the world; and the continued supremacy of the United States over the world, as the world’s only superpower. The last factor must be included in any analysis, because it is the supremacy of the US which in effects guarantees the continuation of free trade; since no one can effectively threaten anyone, there is no need to engage in politically motivated, and economically unsound tariffs. All three of these trends will begin to change by the end of 2008. First, there is the matter of globalization.

In all probability, as the costs needed to sustain globalization rise (as the Wall-Street Journal has already reported them doing so, on June 8), and the benefits in turn fall, as there are less and less resources to go around, and more people to fight for them, tariffs will become economically beneficial once again, and protectionism and isolationism will be on the rise. These all occur in the final stages of the draw-down from globalization. The critical turning point here will likely occur in China: facing fundamental problems concerning differences between rural and urban areas, China must begin to focus on internal matters. And as they do so, there will be fewer and fewer jobs available for foreign companies to purchase; there will be, in effect, less and less room for growth. And because of this, there will be less money for Western companies to spend on other emerging markets. In effect, globalization will begin to falter by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, because quite simply, there is nowhere else new to invest in at a cheap cost. As one venture capitalist I know put it, “The global economic situation is one of a delicate balance; everyone must keep working at their maximum, and do nothing different, in order for the delicate dance to continue.” Thus goes globalization.

Then there is the matter of cheap credit, which in effect allows the US to maintain its current economic position. Because of the availability of cheap cash from China, Japan, and several other states, investors can take on increasingly risky investments, without having to overly worry about costs. It is because of China and Japan buying up US debt, in addition, that has allowed the US to fund both the war in Iraq, and the War on Terror, without damaging the US economy. However, this trend cannot continue indefinitely, and as both Japan and China begin to reach the limits of their economic growth, and begin to lessen their involvement in the world economy in favor of regional matters, the US will find that it has to pay back all its accumulated debt. To use a crude, but effective analogy, the US has been selling parts of the economy “on the margins”, much as stocks were sold before the Great Depression of 1929. This is not to say the US will enter another Great Depression (though it remains possible that such a thing will occur); instead, it will likely enter a recession. The reader should be reminded that the US has not incurred a serious recession for nearly 20, if not 30, years. And the reader should also note that the US, according to its economic history, enters a serious recession once every 20-30 years. In effect, the US is due for a recession. And serious recessions have almost always led to a withdrawal of the by the US from world affairs. Which leads us to the last factor: the supremacy of the US in the world.

As said previously, it is because of the status of the US as the world’s lone superpower which has ensured the continued profitability of free trade since the end of the Cold War; as a result, nations have not been particularly threatened by each other (at least, not countries of major economic states). Thus, there has been no need for politically motivated tariffs that could have a major economic impact. However, as the US withdraws from Iraq, as it begins to realize it must pay off the accumulated federal debt, and as it begins to realize that there are various problems in the heartland which need to be resolved, it will begin to withdraw from world affairs. As a result, nations will begin to fear one another once again, and politics will begin to shape the world economy in drastic ways. Protectionism will rise, and thus trade in regions, not across continents, will become profitable. Indeed, we can already begin to see this happening all over the world: rising anti-Russian sentiment in the EU; rising anti-Iranian sentiment throughout the Persian Gulf, indeed rising anti-Western sentiment occurring throughout that region; rising anti-China sentiment in the US, with talk starting of serious tariffs against China. All over the world, the pendulum is swinging back toward protectionism. And thus does the world economy shift course.

Now, it is often argued that the US will not withdraw from the world, because it simply has too much business invested in parts outside the world. And this is correct; the US cannot completely withdraw from the world. But then again, as has been noted before, neither does a turtle when it enters its shell: half of it, the shell, still remains in contact with the world. And because of the three factors given above, it will not be profitable for companies to continue to invest to such a degree as they do in nations far away from the US. In places like China, India, and Russia, government is beginning to substantially regulate industries. Costs are going up. In effect, the only real place which can still be exploited at real profit, is Africa, and there are three problems with this. First, the security situation is horrible. Second, much of what is easily exploitable there has already been, or is in the process of, being exploited. And third, the reader will note that Africa is somewhat isolated from the rest of the world; even if US companies do shift to there, instead of conserving profits, rather than investing, the US could still enter into a relatively isolationist policy. It should be recalled that during the time of great isolationism for the US, during the 1920s and 1930s, the US had an unprecedented amount of business with the outside world. In effect, the current level of investment by the US is not a particularly large obstacle to the US entering a foreign policy of relative isolationism.

Of course, trade between nations will still remain; however, it will not reach the level it stood at during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. The world will not see for quite some time a situation where two powerful countries hold their respective opposite’s economy in a death grip. Thus, the global economy will slowly lose momentum, and then reverse in direction. It will still exist, but only as a ghost of its former glory.


The second world trend is one which by its nature is not a long-term, sustained trend, but rather, a cyclical one. This trend is the trend of world infrastructure. In states all over the world, infrastructure is increasingly falling into disrepair (that is, a rate faster than it is being repaired), to the point where it will become a severe problem in the future. In the United States, the more minor infrastructure complaints include transportation infrastructure, energy-producing facilities (specifically in the Caribbean, after Hurricane Rita), and several other problems. The more serious issues are deteriorating medical facilities where ERs are increasing overwhelmed by patients, aging city infrastructure (as seen by the steam pipe explosion in New York City on July 17, 2007), manufacturing infrastructure, and a deteriorating electrical transmission structure, which will result in demand for electricity outstripping reliable delivery. In Russia, there are serious infrastructure issues with oil and natural gas field and pipeline maintenance and repairs; in addition, there are also infrastructure issues with regard to their heavy-machinery manufacturing facilities, and an aging military infrastructure. In China, there are serious issues with manufacturing rural infrastructure, weather protection systems and techniques, and very serious environmental infrastructure issues. In most of Europe, there are infrastructure concerns over roads, electricity generation, and finally, issues with the more abstract, but no less real immigrant absorbing infrastructure. In Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran, countries which produce a large portion of the world’s oil supply, issues concerning oil field and pipeline infrastructure are beginning to take on serious proportions. And in Africa…well, infrastructure has been fighting to stay alive there for some time now. So what does this mean? Solving these infrastructure problems will cost a lot of money, and force these nations to devote more attention to their domestic affairs. Therefore, this will add pressure for them to adopt more protectionist measures, and will contribute to the restructuring of the world from its present order.

New Trends
[7] (This section was written between June 13-15, 2007. )

And yet, this isn’t enough. It’s not enough for trends to just break their patterns in close proximity; to change from one era to another, one world order to another, one arena to another, new trends must also emerge, ones which shall propel the world forcefully onto its new course. These new trends force the nations of the world to drastically alter their policies to not only survive, but thrive. The end of the trends in each country listed above make a new era possible, perhaps even likely. The new trends given here make this new era, this new way of doing business, of living, not just probable, but inevitable.

The first of the new trends to come onto the scene, forcing a transition, is not really new at all; indeed, it is one of the oldest trends in history: the weather. Weather is often the catalyst of many era shifts, and while man’s ability to reduce the damage weather incurs has grown, the value of weather as a revolutionizing trend can never be discounted. For example, it was the weather which was one of the prime factors in causing the French Revolution. Weather caused a poor harvest to take place, leaving many starving for food, fueling the uprising against the monarchy through hunger. Moreover, if predictions concerning global warming are indeed accurate, weather could prove to have a much more influential role in shaping the world over the next decade, with an increase in both the number and power of storms raging throughout the world.

The second new trend is technology. While technology as a whole will continue to develop at a remarkable pace, it is likely that during the period of time being discussed, a new technology will be developed which will allow the use of important existing technologies to be perfected. In the French Revolution, artillery (or rather its use) was first perfected; during World War I, the truck rose to prominence; in WWII, the rise of the airplane. During the Cold War, the hydrogen bomb and ICBM were perfected. At the end of the Cold War; the microchip, combined with the personal computer and the Internet, led to what we now know as the Information Age. These technologies had all been around for at least a decade before coming into world-shaping prominence. And each of these was accompanied by an era-shift. Thus, it appears likely that if indeed an era shift of sorts is approaching, it might be accompanied by a technological breakthrough. In this case, it seems as though alternative energy is the most likely candidate. By as soon as the end of 2008 (more likely however by the end of 2011) alternative ways of either producing oil or producing oil substitutes will have likely become competitive to the standard method of drilling oil. The new versions could include cellulosic ethanol, which would make ethanol production competitive in pricing to that of oil, or perhaps Thermal-Depolymerization, which can turn organic waste into oil. Maybe nuclear power will suddenly become cheaper. Or perhaps some combination of emerging technologies will result in a movement away from oil, a movement which can already be seen today. Such a development would indeed have world-changing consequences. The US, and the West as a whole, would have more incentive to withdraw from the world, since it would no longer need to protect interests abroad to nearly the same degree as is required today; instead, China, India, and the developing nations of the world would compete for oil, surging forward to take the place the West voluntarily, albeit reluctantly, vacates. And thus we arrive at the last trend.

In truth, this last trend is not particularly new; it merely changes form every now and again. It has existed since the dawn of man, and yet by itself, it is enough to make a change from the post-9/11 world to a new world not a likelihood, but an inevitability. It is this trend which pushes the world to the final brink. The trend is fear; specifically, fear of the past, fear of history. As the world withdraws from a global perspective, old fears about history will be re-awakened, and men will begin to see their neighbors, once their allies and friends, as competitors and possible enemies. It is known in Sociology circles as the Myth-Symbol complex, where in times of conflict or tension, old legends, myths, and history will come back to haunt the consciousness of those in the nation. They will remember that in the past, they have waged war on each other, hated each other, and the fears that their opponents are planning to do so again will stir the world back into the pattern of conflict it had been set in since before the Cold War. It is the most human of things, and yet, the saddest as well. Change.


I do not lightly make the claim that the world is about to enter a new period of history, as separate from this time as the 1920s were separate from the 1930s. I do so because this is where the evidence points to, where the trends point to. These global, regional, and country trends? They are real. They don’t occur every four years. There is a very real confluence of events occurring, between the accession of new leaders with ideas which depart drastically from the status quo; new realities which have not been faced, or perhaps seen, since the end of the Cold War; and new economic trends. So, if you look closely, you’ll begin to see these trends which are talked about here, beginning to end in 2007 or 2008, or those newer trends that are emerging begin to assert their dominance in those same years as well. You will find old patterns of conflict re-emerge; hatreds which long lay either dormant or suppressed, stirred up once again. You will see nations which once formed the foundation for peaceful societies begin to flex their muscles, not even noticing that they are doing so until they have reached the point where most cease to care. You will witness a global economy, which has thrived for so many years, begin to run down. You will observe a wide array of new leaders arriving onto the international scene, representing powerful nations, with policies that run contrary not just to those of their immediate predecessors, but to an entire line of predecessors. And lastly, you will see the world’s lone superpower, tired of shouldering the burdens of the world, withdraw for a time to tend its garden.

What does a unipolar world look like without its pole? Only time will tell. But in my humble opinion, we shall not have to wait long. Not simply, mind you, because of the mass of evidence accumulated in this paper, which in my analysis points toward such an event. Nor is it just because history seems to dictate that large numbers of changes appearing, differing from the status quo, and occurring close together usually indicate something is happening. These things play a very large part, but there is also something more basic, more personal that drives my conviction. Something I only realized while writing this ending. When you ask yourself, “What does a unipolar world look like without its pole”, and you hear that it might just be over the horizon, that we only have to wait a little while to find out—is there a little thrill of excitement, despite all the horror such a world will likely bring? A quickening of the heartbeat? I do. It is a reaction which comes from the feeling that something new, something drastically different is just over the horizon. The same feeling that explorers of the old felt: the eagerness to see something unknown, something new; the wonder at seeing a new sun rise over a strange land. And if there’s some excitement that something new is approaching, something different, then you know that we have become tired of the old, and are ready for the new. But perhaps this is just me, and the folly of youth.

--Ryan Tepperman
March 25, 2008
4:11 AM

Author’s Note About Methodology

This paper attempts to show that the world is likely to begin changing quite drastically over the course of the next few years, and to argue that this change will in fact usher in a new period, distinct from either the Cold War era, the post-Cold War era, or the post-9/11 era. To do this, the author performs a historical analysis of the current dominant trends which make up the status quo, and attempts to show that, if history is any sort of guide to how the future will turn out, then the convergence of these trends on specific subjects signals that the world is going to change a great deal.

With specific regard to the methodology of the trends used in this paper, it should be noted that the trends detailed in this paper are not the only trends which exist; there are a great many others, any of which could break onto the scene, unpredicted and unforeseen. However, the trends presented in this paper are the dominant ones, which means that these are the trends which most consistently fit with the actions and events that they discuss and describe. This makes it unlikely (though not impossible), that any single one of them could be upset suddenly by a trend not presented here, one which does not follow the pattern set by history. Of greater importance, is the fact that there are so many different and powerful trends, which have shown throughout history that they often converge on certain points in time and remake the world. In order to halt this convergence, and completely disprove the analysis presented in this paper, there would have to be an opposing set of trends just as strong. And since this paper looks at the most dominant trends, it does not appear that such a set of trends exists; indeed, the only possible trend which seems as though it could upset the trends detailed herein, is a new ideology or religion. Neither of these existing (or at least being particularly noticeable) as of yet, the author cannot find any significant evidence which would automatically render the trends detailed in this analysis moot.

About the Author

Ryan Tepperman is currently a history major enrolled at George Washington University. He graduates in the spring of 2008, and finished his senior’s thesis last year. He enjoys playing tennis, chess, reading, and quite recently, being in college; occasionally, he writes poetry. He originally began writing this paper when he noticed that a great number of things he had derived entertainment from for many years, (TV shows, comics, books, for example), some of which had been a constant staple in his life for the past ten years, were ending in the year 2007. Concurrently, he had also realized that it seemed a great many political changes would be taking place in 2008, with new leadership taking place in the US, Russia, and Israel, to name but a few. He also noticed that most of these leadership changes involved leaders stepping down who had either been in power for the past decade, or been the protégé of the person who had; in the European elections that had already occurred in 2006 & 2007, the leaders who had been in power for a long time and were running for re-election, lost to people who were proposing radical reforms for their nations. Thus he began analyzing the status of most of the trends which seem to form the foundation of the current international system.
The reason Ryan wrote this paper is two-fold: first, because he genuinely believes that his analysis is right; Ryan currently resides in Washington, DC.
[1] All trends discussed in this section, with the exception of the “Revolt in the Middle East trend”, were written between June 13-15, 2007. Any alterations made since then have only been to make the analysis of the author clearer to the reader, or to further illustrate his arguments. None of the analyses, or analytic predictions, have been changed.
[2] And it should be noted that neither after World War I, World War II, or Vietnam, did the US become what is usually thought of as completely isolationist. The US still retained an active foreign policy in all these times, and still did trading the outside world, which indeed grew. However, both policy and business received far less attention during these times than they normally would by policymakers.
* “He” used because there are currently no female candidates who have declared their intention to run for the office.
[3] Central Asia is not given a specific analysis in this paper because, quite frankly, things are too blurry to give an accurate forecast of the region. There are simply too many variables still in play. The only thing which can be said (and it should be noted that this is only based on my personal intuition), is that while most of this region will be acted upon by other states, a few Central Asian states (such as Kazakhstan) will exert considerable power over regional, and perhaps even world affairs.
[4] It should be noted that it is now being argued by some that there is a trend in Africa toward unifying the continent under one leader, forging it into one nation. However, there is not really any historical data to back up this claim, Africa having been deeply divided between warring tribes (and now possibly nation-states, but debate is still raging on that subject) for most of its existence. Furthermore, there are numerous technical, logistical, and political realities which form what are quite possibly currently insurmountable obstacles.
[5] This section was written between November 14-15, 2007.
[6] The Global Economy section was written between July 2-July 9, 2007. The Infrastructure Section was written on June 13, 2007. Any alterations made since then have only been to make the analysis of the author clearer to the reader, or to further illustrate his arguments. None of the analyses, or analytic predictions, have been changed, except one: a section on the Internet has been eliminated, as the author has deemed its impact of insufficient importance to be included in the paper.
[7] This section was written between June 13-15, 2007. Any alterations made since then have only been to make the analysis of the author clearer to the reader, or to further illustrate his arguments. None of the analyses, or analytic predictions, have been changed.

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