Despite the conflicts still simmering in Africa and the Middle East, it’s a curious fact that there has been no war between countries for two decades. It just does not happen anymore. Other nations won’t allow it.
Terrorist cells and rogue factions still operate; civil wars and coups are not yet a thing of the past, although they have declined in frequency, worldwide. Since the end of the ‘Second World War’ in 1945 a century ago, wars between countries have become increasingly infrequent, and impossible without multi-national support.
Total armed conflicts have dropped from a high of 44 conflicts in 39 countries in 1995 to a new low of half a dozen, including the never-ending Israel-Palestine problem. The others are all minor conflicts, driven by internal strife.
There’s an uneasy, peaceful rivalry between the two world superpowers, China and America, but they have different growth and political agendas. A real war that involves either is unthinkable. Besides, America and China know how badly they need each other, to sustain the global economy.
Conflict has moved into cyberspace, and the global digital skin puts billions of eyes and ears – and cameras – in touch with each other. The world has never been more transparent, and intolerant of aggression.
Can it be true? Have we finally achieved world peace?
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
2001: War on Terror
The relatively peaceful beginning of the new millennium is shattered on 9/11 with the attack on the World Trade Center and the War on Terror begins. First Afghanistan, then Iraq are invaded.
The United States withdraws from Iraq, ending that theatre of war, but armed conflict continues in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Drones are increasingly used to carry out remote missions.
The Arab Spring begins with unarmed protests across the region but turns into civil war in Libya and later, in Syria.
2015: Decline of war
The decades-long conflict in Colombia is finally resolved. Syria’s civil war is over. Foreign troops have left Afghanistan to deal with continuing conflict on its own. Pakistan and India have reached a peaceful stalemate over Kashmir.
In Africa, North and South Sudan are trading, and skirmishes are infrequent. Somalia, Nigeria and the DRC are still hotspots of conflict, but all the missions in Africa are UN-sponsored or directed by the African Union.
2025: New conflicts
Driven by resource scarcities, especially water, and declining oil prices, new conflicts erupt in Africa and the Arab states. But no nation seriously considers invading another, and the threat of stealthy drones and robotic armoured vehicles is a major deterrent.
2035: China crisis
China is firmly established as the second largest economy, on an equal footing with the United States, and flexing its superpower muscles. But China still lags behind in pure military might, although it has the largest army in the world. America has more robots and planes, and is content to play big brother at arms length.
China has also been expanding its empire with economic invasions. The Chinese diaspora is firmly entrenched in Africa and Latin America, and China’s sphere of influence is truly global. No region can afford to ignore or anger China, unless they want to suffer – economically, that is.
The United States has become energy independent, and less willing than ever to become involved in foreign wars, for little reward. Terrorism is still an ever-present threat, but more conflict occurs in the cyber-sphere than on the ground.
2045: Peace at last
Americans celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. The wars of the 2000s seem equally wasteful and pointless. Has terrorism been ‘defeated’? Conflict will never end, but it seems that another war to change the world is very, very unlikely.