I thought it might be interesting to list the main issues on which there exists conflict complacency: an willingness to actually try to solve the problem, thinking that it is either not important or will somehow go away. All of these potential conflicts seem to me to represent civilization threatening issues that need focused attention from the ‘Twitter World’: my name for our attention deficit civilization.
- The continuing threat of nuclear destruction from the 10,000 or so active nuclear weapons is a backdrop to all the other issues and the fastest way for us to destroy our civilization
- Environmental pressure from climate change and other processes that threaten us as the world moves to a population of 9 billion and more. The threat of water shortages, climate induced refugee movements etc have the US Military’s strong attention but does anyone else really notice?
- Inequality: the root cause of much potential for war lies in a highly transparent world in which any groups’ oppression or radical poverty relative to other groups is a likely trigger violent conflict
- Narco-terrorism and other organized crime. I am amazed that those who worry about government oppression in democracies, especially the USA, don’t seem to have notice the rise of non-government organizations far more violent and potentially oppressive: not just Al Qaeda, but also the 20% of the world’s economy that is believed to be in the hands of organized crime
- Financial instability: I also continue to be surprised at the extent to which those who believe in the free market (and it has its virtues), seem able to ignore the historical record of booms and busts that deliver us major wars and threats to our civilization from time to time. Was the Second World War not partly born in the 1929 Wall Street Crash: cost 50 million dead?
- Rise of China: I do not think that war between the US and China is inevitable, but think the current policy of thoughtless drift without a compelling narrative or strategy as to how policy towards China is going to evolve, is a recipe for ultimate disaster
- Dependence on Middle East oil coupled with failure to resolve the Arab/Israeli conflict: given the instability of the region, this seems like another recipe for major disaster.
- Government Deficits: It always seems like a good idea to spend government money, and raising taxes always seems like a bad idea. Sooner or later most of the West will have to do both. Sooner would be better. Or the cost of debt service and the inability to defend and feed ourselves will take a fearful toll.
- Failure to understand how ineffective are our conflict handling approaches: with the side effect of how politically divided the US is between Right and Left, making it extremely vulnerable in the long run.
- At a Personal level how little connection we see between what we do in our lives and these collective threats. In the West, we are mostly highly individualistic and see no need for collective action to address the issues above.
And of course in many ways these problems are inter-linked: nuclear weapons, environmental pressures, rise of China, terrorism etc.