World View 2025-2030 and the Impact on National Security

January 21, 2003

A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Naval War College in partial satisfaction of the requirements of the Department of National Security Decision Making and the Master of Arts in national security and decision making.

What will the world be like 25-30 years from now? What influences will impact the world within which the United States will operate with regard to national security?

Some would say that world has changed radically in the last two years. The September 2001 terrorist attacks were, indeed, a wake-up call, but they were not “new.” They were, rather, a continuation of trends which have been developing for the last 10-20 years. The next 25-30 years will continue to see shifts and trends in the world environment. These trends, like tides, will rise and fall with a gentleness, but will make all the difference in successful piloting and navigation.

  • Increased religious fundamentalism and religious populism: As has become painfully clear in the last several years, religion plays a huge role in the international arena. Bin Laden has used Islam as a rallying cry for his jihad; but, he is not alone. Religious fundamentalism, whether it be Islamic or Christian or Hindu or some other religion, has become a force to be reckoned with. Religious fundamentalists are willing to take up arms to show that their way is “the” way; let the infidels be damned. Religious fundamentalism will be both a wedge and a weapon in the years to come.
  • Continued Anti-American sentiment and blowback from American foreign policy: The United States has attempted to “take the high road” with many foreign policy issues. But, we don’t have much of a leg to stand on. Not only is there anti-American sentiment, but we are experiencing “blowback” from certain foreign policy decisions. The Lockerbie Pan Am bombing was in direct response to the death of Kadaffi’s daughter. This terrorist act was not an isolated incident. The September 2001 attacks were Bin Laden’s response to American presence in the Middle East. Again, blowback; for every foreign policy action, a reaction.
  • Increased power for intergovernmental organizations (IGOs): IGOs – such as the European Union, the World Bank, and the United Nations – will see increased power. States will, in many respects, turn power over to IGOs.
  • A stronger, more integrated Europe: We will continue to see Europe integrate, consolidating the European Union, NATO, and other European IGOs into a single, huge, force.
  • A developing pan-Asian union: Like Europe today, Asia will begin to act together, developing an Asian Union to better flex their collective muscles.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) playing a larger role in the international arena: Like IGOs, NGOs will play a larger role in the international arena.
  • Increased operations from non-state terrorist actors or armed resistance groups (ARGs): If the last two years have shown us anything, they have shown us that ARGs are a force to be reckoned with. Loose, nimble, and powerful ARGs will continue to attack America and Americans.
  • Additional areas of impact include health crises, including AIDS, other viruses, and bacteria; continued divide between the “haves” and the “have nots”; Water shortages world-wide, particularly in Africa; new energy sources and, thus, less dependence on fossil fuels; and an increased proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).