Worth a reread, twenty years later: ‘The Coming Anarchy’ by Robert Kaplan

Excerpt from his article written in 1994:

West Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide demographic, environmental, and societal stress, in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real “strategic” danger.

Disease, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of resources, refugee migrations, the increasing erosion of nation-states and international borders, and the empowerment of private armies, security firms, and international drug cartels are now most tellingly demonstrated through a West African prism.

West Africa provides an appropriate introduction to the issues, often extremely unpleasant to discuss, that will soon confront our civilization.

To remap the political earth the way it will be a few decades hence—as I intend to do in this article—I find I must begin with West Africa.

And on fanatical religious cults:

Also, war-making entities will no longer be restricted to a specific territory.  Loose and shadowy organisms such as Islamic terrorist organizations suggest why borders will mean increasingly little and sedimentary layers of tribalistic identity and control will mean more.

“From the vantage point of the present, there appears every prospect that religious…fanaticisms will play a larger role in the motivation of armed conflict” in the West than at any time “for the last 300 years,” Van Creveld writes.

This is why analysts like Michael Vlahos are closely monitoring religious cults.

Vlahos says, “An ideology that challenges us may not take familiar form, like the old Nazis or Commies. It may not even engage us initially in ways that fit old threat markings.”

Van Creveld concludes, “Armed conflict will be waged by men on earth, not robots in space. It will have more in common with the struggles of primitive tribes than with large-scale conventional war.”

Of course he does not get everything right.  But it is extremely difficult to forecast twenty years in the future.  Many have made far worse predictions.

“Anarchy” is a good word for how it appears to be turning out in 2014.  I would call the current US southern border situation “anarchy,” for just one example.

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