Three months ago, in this space, I asked whether, if present trends were to continue, we could find ourselves embroiled in something like a Third World War. Working from that concept and the thoughtful remarks of a number of readers, I decided to delve into the question a little more deeply and, as a result, have produced a new e-book entitled The Blast of War: A Narrative History of the Third World War. The book, a “future history,” lays out how the present situation — if carried over into the future — could lead us into catastrophe.
The world situation today is as unsettled as it has been at any time since the late 1930s. Indeed, I believe that the underlying cause of this is the same as it was in that era: irresolute policies by Western leaders that will, if they are not corrected soon, leave nations with no choices except for abject surrender and all-out war. Time and time again world leaders have chosen to punt dangerous problems down the road rather than take the risks necessary to resolve them today. Some of these problems, such as China’s reckless pursuit of short-term growth as a substitute for political reform, unsustainable global debt loads, Iran’s headlong rush towards nuclear weapons, the illegal movement of ten million Mexicans into the United States, and Europe’s lackadaisical economic integration, can and will have no happy resolution. The question is what shade of terrible the results will be.
Under ordinary conditions and in isolation, each of these problems might be manageable. However, as Mark Steyn points out in his excellent new book After America, there is another parameter that has created the conditions for an unimaginable disaster: the fact that the United States increasingly appears unwilling or unable to provide the sort of leadership necessary to move the world through these troubled days. It is well and good enough for neo-isolationists, such as Ron Paul and his supporters, to argue that the United States ought to disengage from international affairs — and for liberals (and not a few conservatives) to argue for reductions in defense budgets — but the reality is that, as Steyn points out, a world without American leadership will be an anarchic place where, without anyone able to assert himself, more and more states will be tempted to resort to aggression to achieve their foreign policy objectives.