Friday, August 03, 2007

The next war

From The Brussels Journal:

In an earlier essay [ Marc Huybrechts] I noted that the preponderant nature of war had been changing over the past half century or so, from international wars between states to civil wars within states. History does not suggest that this state of affairs will continue forever. Indeed, liberal democracy faces currently two major challenges: (A) the terrorism emanating from radical Islam and (B) the renewed rise of non-democratic great powers. The first threat is the more immediate one. But, it is the lesser of the two, because it originates in stagnant and backward societies that are largely living on the economic rent from natural resources and that pose no military threat to developed societies. However, their potential use of acquired weapons of mass destruction does present a serious and growing menace. Nevertheless, it is the second threat in the form of the return of authoritarian great powers (specifically China and Russia), that is likely to be the major threat to liberal democracy’s survival in the foreseeable future.

With all due respect to Mr. Huybrechts I disagree. Defeating single unitary nation states like China or Russia is much more straightforward than stateless terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. I do not say that it will be easy or cheap. But it will have the advantage of having a clear end-point. When China or Russia issues their unconditional surrender.