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The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

The crime and lawlessness of West Africa is a model of what future life could become everywhere
as demographic, environmental, health and social problems increase. The threats of scarce
resources, cultural conflicts, overpopulation and war are discussed.

COPYRIGHT 1994 The Atlantic Monthly Magazine
value. Forget Miami: direct flights between the United States and the Murtala Muhammed Airport, in neighboring How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, have been suspended by are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet order of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation because of ineffective security at the terminal and its environs. A State The Minister’s eyes were like egg yolks, an aftereffect of Department report cited the airport for "extortion by some of the many illnesses, malaria especially, endemic in law-enforcement and immigration officials." This is one of his country. There was also an irrefutable sadness in his the few times that the U.S. government has embargoed a eyes. He spoke in a slow and creaking voice, the voice of foreign airport for reasons that are linked purely to crime. hope about to expire. Flame trees, coconut palms, and a In Abidjan, effectively the capital of the Cote d’Ivoire, or ballpoint-blue Atlantic composed the background. None of Ivory Coast, restaurants have stick- and gun-wielding it seemed beautiful, though. "In forty-five years I have guards who walk you the fifteen feet or so between your never seen things so bad. We did not manage ourselves car and the entrance, giving you an eerie taste of what well after the British departed. But what we have now is American cities might be like in the future. An Italian something worse--the revenge of the poor, of the social ambassador was killed by gunfire when robbers invaded failures, of the people least able to bring up children in a an Abidjan restaurant. The family of the Nigerian modern society." Then he referred to the recent coup in ambassador was tied up and robbed at gunpoint in the the West African country Sierra Leone. "The boys who ambassador’s residence. After university students in the took power in Sierra Leone come from houses like this." Ivory Coast caught bandits who had been plaguing their The Minister jabbed his finger at a corrugated metal shack dorms, they executed them by hanging tires around their teeming with children. "In three months these boys necks and setting the tires on fire. In one instance Ivorian confiscated all the official Mercedes, Volvos, and BMWs policemen stood by and watched the "necklacings," afraid and willfully wrecked them on the road." The Minister to intervene. Each time I went to the Abidjan bus terminal, mentioned one of the coup’s leaders, Solomon Anthony groups of young men with restless, scanning eyes Joseph Musa, who shot the people who had paid for his surrounded my taxi, putting their hands all over the schooling, "in order to erase the humiliation and mitigate windows, demanding "tips" for carrying my luggage even the power his middle-class sponsors held over him." though I had only a rucksack. In cities in six West African countries I saw similar young men everywhere--hordes of Tyranny is nothing new in Sierra Leone or in the rest of them. They were like loose molecules in a very unstable West Africa. But it is now part and parcel of an increasing social fluid, a fluid that was clearly on the verge of igniting.
lawlessness that is far more significant than any coup, rebel incursion, or episodic experiment in democracy. "You see," my friend the Minister told me, "in the villages Crime was what my friend--a top-ranking African official of Africa it is perfectly natural to feed at any table and whose life would be threatened were I to identify him more lodge in any hut. But in the cities this communal existence precisely--really wanted to talk about. Crime is what makes no longer holds. You must pay for lodging and be invited West Africa a natural point of departure for my report on for food. When young men find out that their relations what the political character of our planet is likely to be in cannot put them up, they become lost. They join other migrants and slip gradually into the criminal process." The cities of West Africa at night are some of the unsafest "In the poor quarters of Arab North Africa," he continued, places in the world. Streets are unlit; the police often lack "there is much less crime, because Islam provides a social gasoline for their vehicles; armed burglars, carjackers, and anchor: of education and indoctrination. Here in West muggers proliferate. "The government in Sierra Leone has Africa we have a lot of superficial Islam and superficial no writ after dark," says a foreign resident, shrugging. Christianity. Western religion is undermined by animist When I was in the capital, Freetown, last September, eight beliefs not suitable to a moral society, because they are men armed with AK-47s broke into the house of an based on irrational spirit power. Here spirits are used to American man. They tied him up and stole everything of wreak vengeance by one person against another, or one - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

group against another." Many of the atrocities in the In the other part of the country units of two separate Liberian civil war have been tied to belief in juju spirits, and armies from the war in Liberia have taken up residence, as the BBC has reported, in its magazine Focus on Africa, has an army of Sierra Leonian rebels. The government that in the civil fighting in adjacent Sierra Leone, rebels force fighting the rebels is full of renegade commanders were said to have "a young woman with them who would who have aligned themselves with disaffected village go to the front naked, always walking backwards and chiefs. A pre-modern formlessness governs the battlefield, looking in a mirror to see where she was going. This made evoking the wars in medieval Europe prior to the 1648 her invisible, so that she could cross to the army’s Peace of Westphalia, which ushered in the era of positions and there bury charms . . . to improve the rebels’ As a consequence, roughly 400,000 Sierra Leonians are Finally my friend the Minister mentioned polygamy. internally displaced, 280,000 more have fled to Designed for a pastoral way of life, polygamy continues to neighboring Guinea, and another 100,000 have fled to thrive in sub-Saharan Africa even though it is increasingly Liberia, even as 400,000 Liberians have fled to Sierra uncommon in Arab North Africa. Most youths I met on the Leone. The third largest city in Sierra Leone, Gondama, is road in West Africa told me that they were from "extended" a displaced-persons camp. With an additional 600,000 families, with a mother in one place and a father in Liberians in Guinea and 250,000 in the Ivory Coast, the another. Translated to an urban environment, loose family borders dividing these four countries have become largely structures are largely responsible for the world’s highest meaningless. Even in quiet zones none of the birth rates and the explosion of the HIV virus on the governments except the Ivory Coast’s maintains the continent. Like the communalism and animism, they schools, bridges, roads, and police forces in a manner provide a weak shield against the corrosive social effects necessary for functional sovereignty. The Koranko ethnic of life in cities. In those cities African culture is being group in northeastern Sierra Leone does all its trading in redefined while desertification and deforestation--also tied Guinea. Sierra Leonian diamonds are more likely to be to overpopulation--drive more and more African peasants sold in Liberia than in Freetown. In the eastern provinces of Sierra Leone you can buy Liberian beer but not the local brand.
In Sierra Leone, as in Guinea, as in the Ivory Coast, as in West Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide Ghana, most of the primary rain forest and the secondary demographic, environmental, and societal stress, in which bush is being destroyed at an alarming rate. I saw convoys criminal anarchy emerges as the real "strategic" danger. of trucks bearing majestic hardwood trunks to coastal Disease, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of ports. When Sierra Leone achieved its independence, in resources, refugee migrations, the increasing erosion of 1961, as much as 60 percent of the country was primary nation-states and international borders, and the rain forest. Now six percent is. In the Ivory Coast the empowerment of private armies, security firms, and proportion has fallen from 38 percent to eight percent. The international drug cartels are now most tellingly deforestation has led to soil erosion, which has led to more demonstrated through a West African prism. West Africa flooding and more mosquitoes. Virtually everyone in the provides an appropriate introduction to the issues, often West African interior has some form of malaria.
extremely unpleasant to discuss, that will soon confront our civilization. To remap the political earth the way it will Sierra Leone is a microcosm of what is occurring, albeit in be a few decades hence--as I intend to do in this article--I a more tempered and gradual manner, throughout West Africa and much of the underdeveloped world: the withering away of central governments, the rise of tribal There is no other place on the planet where political maps and regional domains, the unchecked spread of disease, are so deceptive--where, in fact, they tell such lies--as in and the growing pervasiveness of war. West Africa is West Africa. Start with Sierra Leone. According to the reverting to the Africa of the Victorian atlas. It consists now map, it is a nation-state of defined borders, with a of a series of coastal trading posts, such as Freetown and government in control of its territory. In truth the Sierra Conakry, and an interior that, owing to violence, volatility, Leonian government, run by a twenty-seven-year-old army and disease, is again becoming, as Graham Greene once captain, Valentine Strasser, controls Freetown by day and observed, "blank" and "unexplored." However, whereas by day also controls part of the rural interior. In the Greene’s vision implies a certain romance, as in the government’s territory the national army is an unruly rabble somnolent and charmingly seedy Freetown of his threatening drivers and passengers at most checkpoints. celebrated novel The Heart of the Matter, it is Thomas - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

Malthus, the philosopher of demographic doomsday, who Fifty-five percent of the Ivory Coast’s population is urban, is now the prophet of West Africa’s future. And West and the proportion is expected to reach 62 percent by Africa’s future, eventually, will also be that of most of the 2000. The yearly net population growth is 3.6 percent. This means that the Ivory Coast’s 13.5 million people will become 39 million by 2025, when much of the population Consider "Chicago." I refer not to Chicago, Illinois, but to a will consist of urbanized peasants like those of Chicago. slum district of Abidjan, which the young toughs in the area But don’t count on the Ivory Coast’s still existing then. have named after the American city. ("Washington" is Chicago, which is more indicative of Africa’s and the Third another poor section of Abidjan.) Although Sierra Leone is World’s demographic present--and even more of the widely regarded as beyond salvage, the Ivory Coast has future--than any idyllic junglescape of women balancing been considered an African success story, and Abidjan earthen jugs on their heads, illustrates why the Ivory has been called "the Paris of West Africa." Success, Coast, once a model of Third World success, is becoming however, was built on two artificial factors: the high price of a case study in Third World catastrophe.
cocoa, of which the Ivory Coast is the world’s leading producer, and the talents of a French expatriate President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who died last community, whose members have helped run the December at the age of about ninety, left behind a weak government and the private sector. The expanding cocoa cluster of political parties and a leaden bureaucracy that economy made the Ivory Coast a magnet for migrant discourages foreign investment. Because the military is workers from all over West Africa: between a third and a small and the non-Ivorian population large, there is neither half of the country’s population is now non-Ivorian, and the an obvious force to maintain order nor a sense of figure could be as high as 75 percent in Abidjan. During nationhood that would lessen the need for such the 1980s cocoa prices fell and the French began to leave. enforcement. The economy has been shrinking since the The skyscrapers of the Paris of West Africa are a facade. mid-1980s. Though the French are working assiduously to Perhaps 15 percent of Abidjan’s population of three million preserve stability, the Ivory Coast faces a possibility worse people live in shantytowns like Chicago and Washington, than a coup: an anarchic implosion of criminal violence--an and the vast majority live in places that are not much urbanized version of what has already happened in better. Not all of these places appear on any of the readily Somalia. Or it may become an African Yugoslavia, but one available maps. This is another indication of how political without mini-states to replace the whole.
maps are the products of tired conventional wisdom and, in the Ivory Coast’s case, of an elite that will ultimately be Because the demographic reality of West Africa is a countryside draining into dense slums by the coast, ultimately the region’s rulers will come to reflect the values Chicago, like more and more of Abidjan, is a slum in the of these shanty-towns. There are signs of this already in bush: a checkerwork of corrugated zinc roofs and walls Sierra Leone--and in Togo, where the dictator Etienne made of cardboard and black plastic wrap. It is located in a Eyadema, in power since 1967, was nearly toppled in gully teeming with coconut palms and oil palms, and is 1991, not by democrats but by thousands of youths whom ravaged by flooding. Few residents have easy access to the London-based magazine West Africa described as electricity, a sewage system, or a clean water supply. The "Soweto-like stone-throwing adolescents." Their behavior crumbly red laterite earth crawls with foot-long lizards both may herald a regime more brutal than Eyadema’s inside and outside the shacks. Children defecate in a stream filled with garbage and pigs, droning with malarial mosquitoes. In this stream women do the washing. Young The fragility of these West African "countries" impressed unemployed men spend their time drinking beer, palm itself on me when I took a series of bush taxis along the wine, and gin while gambling on pinball games constructed Gulf of Guinea, from the Togolese capital of Lome, across out of rotting wood and rusty nails. These are the same Ghana, to Abidjan. The 400-mile journey required two full youths who rob houses in more prosperous Ivorian days of driving, because of stops at two border crossings neighborhoods at night. One man I met, Damba Tesele, and an additional eleven customs stations, at each of came to Chicago from Burkina Faso in 1963. A cook by which my fellow passengers had their bags searched. I profession, he has four wives and thirty-two children, not had to change money twice and repeatedly fill in one of whom has made it to high school. He has seen his currency-declaration forms. I had to bribe a Togolese shanty community destroyed by municipal authorities immigration official with the equivalent of eighteen dollars seven times since coming to the area. Each time he and before he would agree to put an exit stamp on my his neighbors rebuild. Chicago is the latest incarnation.
passport. Nevertheless, smuggling across these borders is rampant. The London Observer has reported that in 1992 - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

the equivalent of $856 million left West Africa for Europe in the rise; and northern Muslim anxiety over southern the form of "hot cash" assumed to be laundered drug [Christian] control of the economy is intense . . . the will to money. International cartels have discovered the utility of keep Nigeria together is now very weak." weak, financially strapped West African regimes.
Given that oil-rich Nigeria is a bellwether for the region--its The more fictitious the actual sovereignty, the more severe population of roughly 90 million equals the populations of border authorities seem to be in trying to prove otherwise. all the other West African states combined--it is apparent Getting visas for these states can be as hard as crossing that Africa faces cataclysms that could make the Ethiopian their borders. The Washington embassies of Sierra Leone and Somalian famines pale in comparison. This is and Guinea--the two poorest nations on earth, according especially so because Nigeria’s population, including that to a 1993 United Nations report on "human of its largest city, Lagos, whose crime, pollution, and development"--asked for letters from my bank (in lieu of overcrowding make it the cliche par excellence of Third prepaid round-trip tickets) and also personal references, in World urban dysfunction, is set to double during the next order to prove that I had sufficient means to sustain myself twenty-five years, while the country continues to deplete its during my visits. I was reminded of my visa and currency hassles while traveling to the communist states of Eastern Europe, particularly East Germany and Czechoslovakia, Part of West Africa’s quandary is that although its population belts are horizontal, with habitation densities increasing as one travels south away from the Sahara and Ali A. Mazrui, the director of the Institute of Global Cultural toward the tropical abundance of the Atlantic littoral, the Studies at the State University of New York at borders erected by European colonialists are vertical, and Binghamton, predicts that West Africa--indeed, the whole therefore at cross-purposes with demography and continent--is on the verge of large-scale border upheaval. topography. Satellite photos depict the same reality I Mazrui writes, "In the 21st century France will be experienced in the bush taxi: the Lome-Abidjan coastal withdrawing from West Africa as she gets increasingly corridor--indeed, the entire stretch of coast from Abidjan involved in the affairs [of Europe]. France’s West African eastward to Lagos--is one burgeoning megalopolis that by sphere of influence will be filled by Nigeria--a more natural any rational economic and geographical standard should hegemonic power. . . . It will be under those circumstances constitute a single sovereignty, rather than the five (the that Nigeria’s own boundaries are likely to expand to Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) into which it incorporate the Republic of Niger (the Hausa link), the Republic of Benin (the Yoruba link) and conceivably Cameroon." As many internal African borders begin to crumble, a more impenetrable boundary is being erected that threatens to The future could be more tumultuous, and bloodier, than isolate the continent as a whole: the wall of disease. Mazrui dares to say. France will withdraw from former Merely to visit West Africa in some degree of safety, I colonies like Benin, Togo, Niger, and the Ivory Coast, spent about $500 for a hepatitis B vaccination series and where it has been propping up local currencies. It will do other disease prophylaxis. Africa may today be more so not only because its attention will be diverted to new dangerous in this regard than it was in 1862, before challenges in Europe and Russia but also because antibiotics, when the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton younger French officials lack the older generation’s described the health situation on the continent as "deadly, emotional ties to the ex-colonies. However, even as a Golgotha, a Jehannum." Of the approximately 12 million Nigeria attempts to expand, it, too, is likely to split into people worldwide whose blood is HIV-positive, 8 million several pieces. The State Department’s Bureau of are in Africa. In the capital of the Ivory Coast, whose Intelligence and Research recently made the following modern road system only helps to spread the disease, 10 points in an analysis of Nigeria: "Prospects for a transition percent of the population is HIV-positive. And war and to civilian rule and democratization are slim. . . . The refugee movements help the virus break through to repressive apparatus of the state security service . . . will more-remote areas of Africa. Alan Greenberg, M.D., a be difficult for any future civilian government to control. . . . representative of the Centers for Disease Control in The country is becoming increasingly ungovernable. . . . Abidjan, explains that in Africa the HIV virus and Ethnic and regional splits are deepening, a situation made tuberculosis are now "fast-forwarding each other." Of the worse by an increase in the number of states from 19 to 30 approximately 4,000 newly diagnosed tuberculosis and a doubling in the number of local governing patients in Abidjan, 45 percent were also found to be authorities; religious cleavages are more serious; Muslim HIV-positive. As African birth rates soar and slums fundamentalism and evangelical Christian militancy are on proliferate, some experts worry that viral mutations and - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

hybridizations might, just conceivably, result in a form of entering. (Nine of twenty-one U.S. foreign-aid missions to the AIDS virus that is easier to catch than the present be closed over the next three years are in Africa--a prologue to a consolidation of U.S. embassies themselves.) Precisely because much of Africa is set to go It is malaria that is most responsible for the disease wall over the edge at a time when the Cold War has ended, that threatens to separate Africa and other parts of the when environmental and demographic stress in other parts Third World from more-developed regions of the planet in of the globe is becoming critical, and when the post-First the twenty-first century. Carried by mosquitoes, malaria, World War system of nation-states--not just in the Balkans unlike AIDS, is easy to catch. Most people in sub-Saharan but perhaps also in the Middle East--is about to be Africa have recurring bouts of the disease throughout their toppled, Africa suggests what war, borders, and ethnic entire lives, and it is mutating into increasingly deadly politics will be like a few decades hence.
forms. "The great gift of Malaria is utter apathy," wrote Sir Richard Burton, accurately portraying the situation in much To understand the events of the next fifty years, then, one of the Third World today. Visitors to malaria-afflicted parts must understand environmental scarcity, cultural and racial of the planet are protected by a new drug, mefloquine, a clash, geographic destiny, and the transformation of war. side effect of which is vivid, even violent, dreams. But a The order in which I have named these is not accidental. strain of cerebral malaria resistant to mefloquine is now on Each concept except the first relies partly on the one or the offensive. Consequently, defending oneself against ones before it, meaning that the last two--new approaches malaria in Africa is becoming more and more like to mapmaking and to warfare--are the most important. defending oneself against violent crime. You engage in They are also the least understood. I will now look at each "behavior modification": not going out at dusk, wearing idea, drawing upon the work of specialists and also my own travel experiences in various parts of the globe besides Africa, in order to fill in the blanks of a new And the cities keep growing. I got a general sense of the future while driving from the airport to downtown Conakry, the capital of Guinea. The forty-five-minute journey in heavy traffic was through one never-ending shantytown: a nightmarish Dickensian spectacle to which Dickens himself For a while the media will continue to ascribe riots and would never have given credence. The corrugated metal other violent upheavals abroad mainly to ethnic and shacks and scabrous walls were coated with black slime. religious conflict. But as these conflicts multiply, it will Stores were built out of rusted shipping containers, junked become apparent that something else is afoot, making cars, and jumbles of wire mesh. The streets were one long more and more places like Nigeria, India, and Brazil puddle of floating garbage. Mosquitoes and flies were everywhere. Children, many of whom had protruding bellies, seemed as numerous as ants. When the tide went Mention "the environment" or "diminishing natural out, dead rats and the skeletons of cars were exposed on resources" in foreign-policy circles and you meet a brick the mucky beach. In twenty-eight years Guinea’s wall of skepticism or boredom. To conservatives population will double if growth goes on at current rates. especially, the very terms seem flaky. Public-policy Hardwood logging continues at a madcap speed, and foundations have contributed to the lack of interest, by people flee the Guinean countryside for Conakry. It funding narrowly focused environmental studies replete seemed to me that here, as elsewhere in Africa and the with technical jargon which foreign-affairs experts just let Third World, man is challenging nature far beyond its limits, and nature is now beginning to take its revenge.
It is time to understand "the environment" for what it is: the Africa may be as relevant to the future character of world national-security issue of the early twenty-first century. The politics as the Balkans were a hundred years ago, prior to political and strategic impact of surging populations, the two Balkan wars and the First World War. Then the spreading disease, deforestation and soil erosion, water threat was the collapse of empires and the birth of nations depletion, air pollution, and, possibly, rising sea levels in based solely on tribe. Now the threat is more elemental: critical, overcrowded regions like the Nile Delta and nature unchecked. Africa’s immediate future could be very Bangladesh--developments that will prompt mass bad. The coming upheaval, in which foreign embassies are migrations and, in turn, incite group conflicts--will be the shut down, states collapse, and contact with the outside core foreign-policy challenge from which most others will world takes place through dangerous, disease-ridden ultimately emanate, arousing the public and uniting coastal trading posts, will loom large in the century we are assorted interests left over from the Cold War. In the - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

twenty-first century water will be in dangerously short strife, scarcer resources will place a great strain on many supply in such diverse locales as Saudi Arabia, Central peoples who never had much of a democratic or Asia, and the southwestern United States. A war could institutional tradition to begin with. Over the next fifty years erupt between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River water. the earth’s population will soar from 5.5 billion to more Even in Europe tensions have arisen between Hungary than nine billion. Though optimists have hopes for new and Slovakia over the damming of the Danube, a classic resource technologies and free-market development in the case of how environmental disputes fuse with ethnic and global village, they fail to note that, as the National historical ones. The political scientist and erstwhile Clinton Academy of Sciences has pointed out, 95 percent of the adviser Michael Mandelbaum has said, "We have a foreign population increase will be in the poorest regions of the policy today in the shape of a doughnut--lots of peripheral world, where governments now--just look at Africa--show interests but nothing at the center." The environment, I will little ability to function, let alone to implement even argue, is part of a terrifying array of problems that will marginal improvements. Homer-Dixon writes, ominously, define a new threat to our security, filling the hole in "Neo-Malthusians may underestimate human adaptability Mandelbaum’s doughnut and allowing a post-Cold War in today’s environmental-social system, but as time passes foreign policy to emerge inexorably by need rather than by their analysis may become ever more compelling." While a minority of the human population will be, as Our Cold War foreign policy truly began with George F. Francis Fukuyama would put it, sufficiently sheltered so as Kennan’s famous article, signed "X," published in Foreign to enter a "post-historical" realm, living in cities and Affairs in July of 1947, in which Kennan argued for a "firm suburbs in which the environment has been mastered and and vigilant containment" of a Soviet Union that was ethnic animosities have been quelled by bourgeois imperially, rather than ideologically, motivated. It may be prosperity, an increasingly large number of people will be that our post-Cold War foreign policy will one day be seen stuck in history, living in shantytowns where attempts to to have had its beginnings in an even bolder and more rise above poverty, cultural dysfunction, and ethnic strife detailed piece of written analysis: one that appeared in the will be doomed by a lack of water to drink, soil to till, and journal International Security. The article, published in the space to survive in. In the developing world environmental fall of 1991 by Thomas Fraser Homer-Dixon, who is the stress will present people with a choice that is increasingly head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the among totalitarianism (as in Iraq), fascist-tending University of Toronto, was titled "On the Threshold: mini-states (as in Serb-held Bosnia), and road-warrior Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict." cultures (as in Somalia). Homer-Dixon concludes that "as Homer-Dixon has, more successfully than other analysts, environmental degradation proceeds, the size of the integrated two hitherto separate fields--military-conflict potential social disruption will increase." studies and the study of the physical environment.
Tad Homer-Dixon is an unlikely Jeremiah. Today a boyish In Homer-Dixon’s view, future wars and civil violence will thirty-seven, he grew up amid the sylvan majesty of often arise from scarcities of resources such as water, Vancouver Island, attending private day schools. His cropland, forests, and fish. Just as there will be speech is calm, perfectly even, and crisply enunciated. environmentally driven wars and refugee flows, there will There is nothing in his background or manner that would be environmentally induced praetorian regimes--or, as he indicate a bent toward pessimism. A Canadian Anglican puts it, "hard regimes." Countries with the highest who spends his summers canoeing on the lakes of probability of acquiring hard regimes, according to northern Ontario, and who talks about the benign Homer-Dixon, are those that are threatened by a declining mountains, black bears, and Douglas firs of his youth, he resource base yet also have "a history of state [read is the opposite of the intellectually severe neoconservative, ’military’] strength." Candidates include Indonesia, Brazil, the kind at home with conflict scenarios. Nor is he an and, of course, Nigeria. Though each of these nations has environmentalist who opposes development. "My father exhibited democratizing tendencies of late, Homer-Dixon was a logger who thought about ecologically safe forestry argues that such tendencies are likely to be superficial before others," he says. "He logged, planted, logged, and "epiphenomena" having nothing to do with long-term planted. He got out of the business just as the issue was processes that include soaring populations and shrinking being polarized by environmentalists. They hate changed raw materials. Democracy is problematic; scarcity is more ecosystems. But human beings, just by carrying seeds around, change the natural world." As an only child whose playground was a virtually untouched wilderness and Indeed, the Saddam Husseins of the future will have more, seacoast, Homer-Dixon has a familiarity with the natural not fewer, opportunities. In addition to engendering tribal world that permits him to see a reality that most policy - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

analysts--children of suburbia and city streets--are blind to.
fourteen percent growth rate does not mean it’s going to be a world power. It means that coastal China, where the "We need to bring nature back in," he argues. "We have to economic growth is taking place, is joining the rest of the stop separating politics from the physical world--the Pacific Rim. The disparity with inland China is intensifying." climate, public health, and the environment." Quoting Referring to the environmental research of his colleague, Daniel Deudney, another pioneering expert on the security the Czech-born ecologist Vaclav Smil, Homer-Dixon aspects of the environment, Homer-Dixon says that "for explains how the per capita availability of arable land in too long we’ve been prisoners of ’social-social’ theory, interior China has rapidly declined at the same time that which assumes there are only social causes for social and the quality of that land has been destroyed by political changes, rather than natural causes, too. This deforestation, loss of topsoil, and salinization. He mentions social-social mentality emerged with the Industrial the loss and contamination of water supplies, the Revolution, which separated us from nature. But nature is exhaustion of wells, the plugging of irrigation systems and coming back with a vengeance, tied to population growth. reservoirs with eroded silt, and a population of 1.54 billion It will have incredible security implications.
by the year 2025: it is a misconception that China has gotten its population under control. Large-scale population "Think of a stretch limo in the potholed streets of New York movements are under way, from inland China to coastal City, where homeless beggars live. Inside the limo are the China and from villages to cities, leading to a crime surge air-conditioned post-industrial regions of North America, like the one in Africa and to growing regional disparities Europe, the emerging Pacific Rim, and a few other isolated and conflicts in a land with a strong tradition of warlordism places, with their trade summitry and computer-information and a weak tradition of central government--again as in highways. Outside is the rest of mankind, going in a Africa. "We will probably see the center challenged and fractured, and China will not remain the same on the map," Homer-Dixon says.
We are entering a bifurcated world. Part of the globe is inhabited by Hegel’s and Fukuyama’s Last Man, healthy, Environmental scarcity will inflame existing hatreds and well fed, and pampered by technology. The other, larger, affect power relationships, at which we now look.
part is inhabited by Hobbes’s First Man, condemned to a life that is "poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Although both parts will be threatened by environmental stress, the Last Man will be able to master it; the First Man will not.
In the summer, 1993, issue of Foreign Affairs, Samuel P. Huntington, of Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic The Last Man will adjust to the loss of underground water Studies, published a thought-provoking article called "The tables in the western United States. He will build dikes to Clash of Civilizations?" The world, he argues, has been save Cape Hatteras and the Chesapeake beaches from moving during the course of this century from nation-state rising sea levels, even as the Maldive Islands, off the coast conflict to ideological conflict to, finally, cultural conflict. I of India, sink into oblivion, and the shorelines of Egypt, would add that as refugee flows increase and as peasants Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia recede, driving tens of continue migrating to cities around the world--turning them millions of people inland where there is no room for them, into sprawling villages--national borders will mean less, and thus sharpening ethnic divisions.
even as more power will fall into the hands of less educated, less sophisticated groups. In the eyes of these Homer-Dixon points to a world map of soil degradation in uneducated but newly empowered millions, the real his Toronto office. "The darker the map color, the worse borders are the most tangible and intractable ones: those the degradation," he explains. The West African coast, the of culture and tribe. Huntington writes, "First, differences Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, China, and Central among civilizations are not only real; they are basic," America have the darkest shades, signifying all manner of involving, among other things, history, language, and degradation, related to winds, chemicals, and water religion. "Second . . . interactions between peoples of problems. "The worst degradation is generally where the different civilizations are increasing; these increasing population is highest. The population is generally highest interactions intensify civilization consciousness." Economic where the soil is the best. So we’re degrading earth’s best modernization is not necessarily a panacea, since it fuels individual and group ambitions while weakening traditional loyalties to the state. It is worth noting, for example, that it China, in Homer-Dixon’s view, is the quintessential is precisely the wealthiest and fastest-developing city in example of environmental degradation. Its current India, Bombay, that has seen the worst intercommunal economic "success" masks deeper problems. "China’s violence between Hindus and Muslims. Consider that - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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Indian cities, like African and Chinese ones, are ecological bordering on hatred, of fellow-Muslim Iran, they are also, time bombs--Delhi and Calcutta, and also Beijing, suffer especially in the shantytowns that are coming to dominate the worst air quality of any cities in the world--and it is Turkish public opinion, revising their group identity, apparent how surging populations, environmental increasingly seeing themselves as Muslims being deserted degradation, and ethnic conflict are deeply related.
by a West that does little to help besieged Muslims in Bosnia and that attacks Turkish Muslims in the streets of Huntington points to interlocking conflicts among Hindu, Muslim, Slavic Orthodox, Western, Japanese, Confucian, Latin American, and possibly African civilizations: for In other words, the Balkans, a powder keg for nation-state instance, Hindus clashing with Muslims in India, Turkic war at the beginning of the twentieth century, could be a Muslims clashing with Slavic Orthodox Russians in Central powder keg for cultural war at the turn of the twenty-first: Asian cities, the West clashing with Asia. (Even in the between Orthodox Christianity (represented by the Serbs United States, African-Americans find themselves and a classic Byzantine configuration of Greeks, Russians, besieged by an influx of competing Latinos.) Whatever the and Romanians) and the House of Islam. Yet in the laws, refugees find a way to crash official borders, bringing Caucasus that House of Islam is falling into a clash their passions with them, meaning that Europe and the between Turkic and Iranian civilizations. Ajami asserts that United States will be weakened by cultural disputes.
this very subdivision, not to mention all the divisions within the Arab world, indicates that the West, including the Because Huntington’s brush is broad, his specifics are United States, is not threatened by Huntington’s scenario. vulnerable to attack. In a rebuttal of Huntington’s argument As the Gulf War demonstrated, the West has proved the Johns Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami, a capable of playing one part of the House of Islam against Lebanese-born Shi’ite who certainly knows the world beyond suburbia, writes in the September-October, 1993, issue of Foreign Affairs, "The world of Islam divides and True. However, whether he is aware of it or not, Ajami is subdivides. The battle lines in the Caucasus . . . are not describing a world even more dangerous than the one coextensive with civilizational fault lines. The lines follow Huntington envisions, especially when one takes into the interests of states. Where Huntington sees a account Homer-Dixon’s research on environmental civilizational duel between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the scarcity. Outside the stretch limo would be a rundown, Iranian state has cast religious zeal . . . to the wind . . . in crowded planet of skinhead Cossacks and juju warriors, that battle the Iranians have tilted toward Christian influenced by the worst refuse of Western pop culture and ancient tribal hatreds, and battling over scraps of overused earth in guerrilla conflicts that ripple across continents and True, Huntington’s hypothesized war between Islam and intersect in no discernible pattern--meaning there’s no Orthodox Christianity is not borne out by the alliance easy-to-define threat. Kennan’s world of one adversary network in the Caucasus. But that is only because he has seems as distant as the world of Herodotus.
misidentified which cultural war is occurring there. A recent visit to Azerbaijan made clear to me that Azeri Turks, the Most people believe that the political earth since 1989 has world’s most secular Shi’ite Muslims, see their cultural undergone immense change. But it is minor compared with identity in terms not of religion but of their Turkic race. The what is yet to come. The breaking apart and remaking of Armenians, likewise, fight the Azeris not because the latter the atlas is only now beginning. The crack-up of the Soviet are Muslims but because they are Turks, related to the empire and the coming end of Arab-Israeli military same Turks who massacred Armenians in 1915. Turkic confrontation are merely prologues to the really big culture (secular and based on languages employing a changes that lie ahead. Michael Vlahos, a long-range Latin script) is battling Iranian culture (religiously militant thinker for the U.S. Navy, warns, "We are not in charge of as defined by Tehran, and wedded to an Arabic script) the environment and the world is not following us. It is across the whole swath of Central Asia and the Caucasus. going in many directions. Do not assume that democratic The Armenians are, therefore, natural allies of their fellow capitalism is the last word in human social evolution." Before addressing the questions of maps and of warfare, I Huntington is correct that the Caucasus is a flashpoint of want to take a closer look at the interaction of religion, cultural and racial war. But, as Ajami observes, culture, demographic shifts, and the distribution of natural Huntington’s plate tectonics are too simple. Two months of resources in a specific area of the world: the Middle East.
recent travel throughout Turkey revealed to me that although the Turks are developing a deep distrust, - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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Built on steep, muddy hills, the shantytowns of Ankara, the East once again. Slums are litmus tests for innate cultural Turkish capital, exude visual drama. Altindag, or "Golden strengths and weaknesses. Those peoples whose cultures Mountain," is a pyramid of dreams, fashioned from cinder can harbor extensive slum life without decomposing will blocks and corrugated iron, rising as though each shack be, relatively speaking, the future’s winners. Those whose were built on top of another, all reaching awkwardly and cultures cannot will be the future’s victims. Slums--in the painfully toward heaven--the heaven of wealthier Turks sociological sense--do not exist in Turkish cities. The who live elsewhere in the city. Nowhere else on the planet mortar between people and family groups is stronger here have I found such a poignant architectural symbol of man’s than in Africa. Resurgent Islam and Turkic cultural identity striving, with gaps in house walls plugged with rusted have produced a civilization with natural muscle tone. cans, and leeks and onions growing on verandas Turks, history’s perennial nomads, take disruption in stride.
assembled from planks of rotting wood. For reasons that I will explain, the Turkish shacktown is a psychological The future of the Middle East is quietly being written inside the heads of Golden Mountain’s inhabitants. Think of an Ottoman military encampment on the eve of the To see the twenty-first century truly, one’s eyes must learn destruction of Greek Constantinople in 1453. That is a different set of aesthetics. One must reject the overly Golden Mountain. "We brought the village here. But in the stylized images of travel magazines, with their inviting village we worked harder--in the field, all day. So we photographs of exotic villages and glamorous downtowns. couldn’t fast during [the holy month of] Ramadan. Here we There are far too many millions whose dreams are more fast. Here we are more religious." Aishe Tanrikulu, along vulgar, more real--whose raw energies and desires will with half a dozen other women, was stuffing rice into vine overwhelm the visions of the elites, remaking the future leaves from a crude plastic bowl. She asked me to join her into something frighteningly new. But in Turkey I learned under the shade of a piece of sheet metal. Each of these women had her hair covered by a kerchief. In the city they were encountering television for the first time. "We are Slum quarters in Abidjan terrify and repel the outsider. In traditional, religious people. The programs offend us," Turkey it is the opposite. The closer I got to Golden Aishe said. Another woman complained about the schools. Mountain the better it looked, and the safer I felt. I had Though her children had educational options unavailable $1,500 worth of Turkish lira in one pocket and $1,000 in in the village, they had to compete with wealthier, secular traveler’s checks in the other, yet I felt no fear. Golden Turks. "The kids from rich families with connections--they Mountain was a real neighborhood. The inside of one get all the places." More opportunities, more tensions, in house told the story: The architectural bedlam of cinder block and sheet metal and cardboard walls was deceiving. Inside was a home--order, that is, bespeaking dignity. I My guidebook to Golden Mountain was an untypical one: saw a working refrigerator, a television, a wall cabinet with Tales From the Garbage Hills, a brutally realistic novel by a few books and lots of family pictures, a few plants by a a Turkish writer, Latife Tekin, about life in the shantytowns, window, and a stove. Though the streets become rivers of which in Turkey are called gecekondus ("built in a night"). mud when it rains, the floors inside this house were "He listened to the earth and wept unceasingly for water, for work and for the cure of the illnesses spread by the garbage and the factory waste," Tekin writes. In the most Other houses were like this too. Schoolchildren ran along revealing passage of Tales From the Garbage Hills the with briefcases strapped to their backs, trucks delivered squatters are told "about a certain ’Ottoman Empire’ . . . cooking gas, a few men sat inside a cafe sipping tea. One that where they now lived there had once been an empire man sipped beer. Alcohol is easy to obtain in Turkey, a of this name." This history "confounded" the squatters. It secular state where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. was the first they had heard of it. Though one of them Yet there is little problem of alcoholism. Crime against knew "that his grandfather and his dog died fighting the persons is infinitesimal. Poverty and illiteracy are Greeks," nationalism and an encompassing sense of watered-down versions of what obtains in Algeria and Turkish history are the province of the Turkish middle and Egypt (to say nothing of West Africa), making it that much upper classes, and of foreigners like me who feel required harder for religious extremists to gain a foothold.
My point in bringing up a rather wholesome, crime-free But what did the Golden Mountain squatters know about slum is this: its existence demonstrates how formidable is the armies of Turkish migrants that had come before their the fabric of which Turkish Muslim culture is made. A own--namely, Seljuks and Ottomans? For these recently culture this strong has the potential to dominate the Middle urbanized peasants, and their counterparts in Africa, the - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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Arab world, India, and so many other places, the world is development and urbanization on a fast track, making the new, to adapt V. S. Naipaul’s phrase. As Naipaul wrote of culture shock more intense--fueled the 1978 Islamic urban refugees in India: A Wounded Civilization, "They Revolution. But Turkey, unlike Iran and the Arab world, saw themselves at the beginning of things: has little oil. Therefore its development and urbanization unaccommodated men making a claim on their land for the have been more gradual. Islamists have been integrated first time, and out of chaos evolving their own philosophy into the parliamentary system for decades. The tensions I of community and self-help. For them the past was dead; noticed in Golden Mountain are natural, creative ones: the they had left it behind in the villages." kind immigrants face the world over. While the world has focused on religious perversity in Algeria, a nation rich in Everywhere in the developing world at the turn of the natural gas, and in Egypt, parts of whose capital city, twenty-first century these new men and women, rushing Cairo, evince worse crowding than I have seen even in into the cities, are remaking civilizations and redefining Calcutta, Turkey has been living through the Muslim their identities in terms of religion and tribal ethnicity which equivalent of the Protestant Reformation.
do not coincide with the borders of existing states.
Resource distribution is strengthening Turks in another In Turkey several things are happening at once. In 1980, way vis-a-vis Arabs and Persians. Turks may have little oil, 44 percent of Turks lived in cities; in 1990 it was 61 but their Anatolian heartland has lots of water--the most percent. By the year 2000 the figure is expected to be 67 important fluid of the twenty-first century. Turkey’s percent. Villages are emptying out as concentric rings of Southeast Anatolia Project, involving twenty-two major gecekondu developments grow around Turkish cities. This dams and irrigation systems, is impounding the waters of is the real political and demographic revolution in Turkey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Much of the water that and elsewhere, and foreign correspondents usually don’t Arabs and perhaps Israelis will need to drink in the future is controlled by Turks. The project’s centerpiece is the mile-wide, sixteen-story Ataturk Dam, upon which are Whereas rural poverty is age-old and almost a "normal" emblazoned the words of modern Turkey’s founder: "Ne part of the social fabric, urban poverty is socially Mutlu Turkum Diyene" ("Lucky is the one who is a Turk").
destabilizing. As Iran has shown, Islamic extremism is the psychological defense mechanism of many urbanized Unlike Egypt’s Aswan High Dam, on the Nile, and Syria’s peasants threatened with the loss of traditions in Revolution Dam, on the Euphrates, both of which were pseudo-modern cities where their values are under attack, built largely by Russians, the Ataturk Dam is a where basic services like water and electricity are predominantly Turkish affair, with Turkish engineers and unavailable, and where they are assaulted by a physically companies in charge. On a recent visit my eyes took in the unhealthy environment. The American ethnologist and immaculate offices and their gardens, the high-voltage orientalist Carleton Stevens Coon wrote in 1951 that Islam electric grids and phone switching stations, the dizzying "has made possible the optimum survival and happiness of sweep of giant humming transformers, the millions of human beings in an increasingly impoverished poured-concrete spillways, and the prim unfolding environment over a fourteen-hundred-year period." suburbia, complete with schools, for dam employees. The Beyond its stark, clearly articulated message, Islam’s very emerging power of the Turks was palpable.
militancy makes it attractive to the downtrodden. It is the one religion that is prepared to fight. A political era driven Erduhan Bayindir, the site manager at the dam, told me by environmental stress, increased cultural sensitivity, that "while oil can be shipped abroad to enrich only elites, unregulated urbanization, and refugee migrations is an era water has to be spread more evenly within the society. . . . divinely created for the spread and intensification of Islam, It is true, we can stop the flow of water into Syria and Iraq already the world’s fastest-growing religion. (Though Islam for up to eight months without the same water overflowing is spreading in West Africa, it is being hobbled by our dams, in order to regulate their political behavior." syncretization with animism: this makes new converts less apt to become anti-Western extremists, but it also makes Power is certainly moving north in the Middle East, from for a weakened version of the faith, which is less effective the oil fields of Dhahran, on the Persian Gulf, to the water plain of Harran, in southern Anatolia--near the site of the Ataturk Dam. But will the nation-state of Turkey, as In Turkey, however, Islam is painfully and awkwardly presently constituted, be the inheritor of this wealth? forging a consensus with modernization, a trend that is less apparent in the Arab and Persian worlds (and virtually invisible in Africa). In Iran the oil boom--because it put - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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determinate, and therefore--in principle--countable." To the colonialist, country maps were the equivalent of an Whereas West Africa represents the least stable part of accountant’s ledger books. Maps, Anderson explains, political reality outside Homer-Dixon’s stretch limo, Turkey, "shaped the grammar" that would make possible such an organic outgrowth of two Turkish empires that ruled questionable concepts as Iraq, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Anatolia for 850 years, has been among the most stable. and Nigeria. The state, recall, is a purely Western notion, Turkey’s borders were established not by colonial powers one that until the twentieth century applied to countries but in a war of independence, in the early 1920s. Kemal covering only three percent of the earth’s land area. Nor is Ataturk provided Turkey with a secular nation-building the evidence compelling that the state, as a governing myth that most Arab and African states, burdened by ideal, can be successfully transported to areas outside the artificially drawn borders, lack. That lack will leave many industrialized world. Even the United States of America, in Arab states defenseless against a wave of Islam that will the words of one of our best living poets, Gary Snyder, eat away at their legitimacy and frontiers in coming years. consists of "arbitrary and inaccurate impositions on what is Yet even as regards Turkey, maps deceive.
It is not only African shantytowns that don’t appear on Yet this inflexible, artificial reality staggers on, not only in urban maps. Many shantytowns in Turkey and elsewhere the United Nations but in various geographic and travel are also missing--as are the considerable territories publications (themselves by-products of an age of elite controlled by guerrilla armies and urban mafias. Traveling touring which colonialism made possible) that still report with Eritrean guerrillas in what, according to the map, was on and photograph the world according to "country." northern Ethiopia, traveling in "northern Iraq" with Kurdish Newspapers, this magazine, and this writer are not guerrillas, and staying in a hotel in the Caucasus controlled by a local mafia--to say nothing of my experiences in West Africa--led me to develop a healthy According to the map, the great hydropower complex skepticism toward maps, which, I began to realize, create emblemized by the Ataturk Dam is situated in Turkey. a conceptual barrier that prevents us from comprehending Forget the map. This southeastern region of Turkey is the political crack-up just beginning to occur worldwide.
populated almost completely by Kurds. About half of the world’s 20 million Kurds live in "Turkey." The Kurds are Consider the map of the world, with its 190 or so countries, predominant in an ellipse of territory that overlaps not only each signified by a bold and uniform color: this map, with with Turkey but also with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the former which all of us have grown up, is generally an invention of Soviet Union. The Western-enforced Kurdish enclave in modernism, specifically of European colonialism. northern Iraq, a consequence of the 1991 Gulf War, has Modernism, in the sense of which I speak, began with the already exposed the fictitious nature of that supposed rise of nation-states in Europe and was confirmed by the death of feudalism at the end of the Thirty Years’ War--an event that was interposed between the Renaissance and On a recent visit to the Turkish-Iranian border, it occurred the Enlightenment, which together gave birth to modern to me what a risky idea the nation-state is. Here I was on science. People were suddenly flush with an enthusiasm the legal fault line between two clashing civilizations, to categorize, to define. The map, based on scientific Turkic and Iranian. Yet the reality was more subtle: as in techniques of measurement, offered a way to classify new West Africa, the border was porous and smuggling national organisms, making a jigsaw puzzle of neat pieces abounded, but here the people doing the smuggling, on without transition zones between them. "Frontier" is itself a both sides of the border, were Kurds. In such a modern concept that didn’t exist in the feudal mind. And as moonscape, over which peoples have migrated and settled European nations carved out far-flung domains at the in patterns that obliterate borders, the end of the Cold War same time that print technology was making the will bring on a cruel process of natural selection among reproduction of maps cheaper, cartography came into its existing states. No longer will these states be so firmly own as a way of creating facts by ordering the way we look propped up by the West or the Soviet Union. Because the Kurds overlap with nearly everybody in the Middle East, on account of their being cheated out of a state in the In his book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the post-First World War peace treaties, they are emerging, in Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson, of effect, as the natural selector--the ultimate reality check. Cornell University, demonstrates that the map enabled They have destabilized Iraq and may continue to disrupt colonialists to think about their holdings in terms of a states that do not offer them adequate breathing space, "totalizing classificatory grid. . . . It was bounded, - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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Because the Turks, owing to their water resources, their process, Israel is destined to be a Jewish ethnic fortress growing economy, and the social cohesion evinced by the amid a vast and volatile realm of Islam. In that realm, the most crime-free slums I have encountered, are on the violent youth culture of the Gaza shantytowns may be verge of big-power status, and because the 10 million Kurds within Turkey threaten that status, the outcome of the Turkish-Kurdish dispute will be more critical to the The destiny of Turks and Kurds is far less certain, but far future of the Middle East than the eventual outcome of the more relevant to the kind of map that will explain our future recent Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
world. The Kurds suggest a geographic reality that cannot be shown in two-dimensional space. The issue in Turkey is America’s fascination with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, not simply a matter of giving autonomy or even coupled with its lack of interest in the Turkish-Kurdish one, independence to Kurds in the southeast. This isn’t the is a function of its own domestic and ethnic obsessions, Balkans or the Caucasus, where regions are merely not of the cartographic reality that is about to transform the subdividing into smaller units, Abkhazia breaking off from Middle East. The diplomatic process involving Israelis and Georgia, and so on. Federalism is not the answer. Kurds Palestinians will, I believe, have little effect on the early- are found everywhere in Turkey, including the shanty and mid-twenty-first-century map of the region. Israel, with districts of Istanbul and Ankara. Turkey’s problem is that a 6.6 percent economic growth rate based increasingly on its Anatolian land mass is the home of two cultures and high-tech exports, is about to enter Homer-Dixon’s stretch languages, Turkish and Kurdish. Identity in Turkey, as in limo, fortified by a well-defined political community that is India, Africa, and elsewhere, is more complex and subtle an organic outgrowth of history and ethnicity. Like than conventional cartography can display.
prosperous and peaceful Japan on the one hand, and war-torn and poverty-wracked Armenia on the other, Israel is a classic national-ethnic organism. Much of the Arab world, however, will undergo alteration, as Islam spreads To appreciate fully the political and cartographic across artificial frontiers, fueled by mass migrations into implications of postmodernism--an epoch of themeless the cities and a soaring birth rate of more than 3.2 percent. juxtapositions, in which the classificatory grid of Seventy percent of the Arab population has been born nation-states is going to be replaced by a jagged-glass since 1970--youths with little historical memory of pattern of city-states, shanty-states, nebulous and anticolonial independence struggles, postcolonial attempts anarchic regionalisms--it is necessary to consider, finally, at nation-building, or any of the Arab-Israeli wars. The most distant recollection of these youths will be the West’s humiliation of colonially invented Iraq in 1991. Today "Oh, what a relief to fight, to fight enemies who defend seventeen out of twenty-two Arab states have a declining themselves, enemies who are awake!" Andre Malraux gross national product; in the next twenty years, at current wrote in Man’s Fate. I cannot think of a more suitable growth rates, the population of many Arab countries will battle cry for many combatants in the early decades of the double. These states, like most African ones, will be twenty-first century. The intense savagery of the fighting in ungovernable through conventional secular ideologies. such diverse cultural settings as Liberia, Bosnia, the The Middle East analyst Christine M. Helms explains, Caucasus, and Sri Lanka--to say nothing of what obtains "Declaring Arab nationalism "bankrupt," the political in American inner cities--indicates something very "disinherited" are not rationalizing the failure of Arabism . . troubling that those of us inside the stretch limo, . or reformulating it. Alternative solutions are not concerned with issues like middle-class entitlements and contemplated. They have simply opted for the political the future of interactive cable television, lack the stomach paradigm at the other end of the political spectrum with to contemplate. It is this: a large number of people on this planet, to whom the comfort and stability of a middle-class life is utterly unknown, find war and a barracks existence a Like the borders of West Africa, the colonial borders of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, and other Arab states are often contrary to cultural and political reality. As state "Just as it makes no sense to ask ’why people eat’ or ’what control mechanisms wither in the face of environmental they sleep for,’" writes Martin van Creveld, a military and demographic stress, "hard" Islamic city-states or historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in The shantytown-states are likely to emerge. The fiction that the Transformation of War, "so fighting in many ways is not a impoverished city of Algiers, on the Mediterranean, means but an end. Throughout history, for every person controls Tamanrasset, deep in the Algerian Sahara, who has expressed his horror of war there is another who cannot obtain forever. Whatever the outcome of the peace found in it the most marvelous of all the experiences that - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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are vouchsafed to man, even to the point that he later culmination in the Thirty Years’ War.
spent a lifetime boring his descendants by recounting his exploits." When I asked Pentagon officials about the Van Creveld writes, "In all these struggles political, social, nature of war in the twenty-first century, the answer I economic, and religious motives were hopelessly frequently got was "Read Van Creveld." The top brass are entangled. Since this was an age when armies consisted enamored of this historian not because his writings justify of mercenaries, all were also attended by swarms of their existence but, rather, the opposite: Van Creveld military entrepreneurs. . . . Many of them paid little but lip warns them that huge state military machines like the service to the organizations for whom they had contracted Pentagon’s are dinosaurs about to go extinct, and that to fight. Instead, they robbed the countryside on their own something far more terrible awaits us.
The degree to which Van Creveld’s Transformation of War "Given such conditions, any fine distinctions . . . between complements Homer-Dixon’s work on the environment, armies on the one hand and peoples on the other were Huntington’s thoughts on cultural clash, my own bound to break down. Engulfed by war, civilians suffered realizations in traveling by foot, bus, and bush taxi in more than sixty countries, and America’s sobering comeuppances in intractable-culture zones like Haiti and Back then, in other words, there was no "politics" as we Somalia is startling. The book begins by demolishing the have come to understand the term, just as there is less notion that men don’t like to fight. "By compelling the and less "politics" today in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, senses to focus themselves on the here and now," Van Sri Lanka, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, among other Creveld writes, war "can cause a man to take his leave of them." As anybody who has had experience with Chetniks in Serbia, "technicals" in Somalia, Tontons Macoutes in Because, as Van Creveld notes, the radius of trust within Haiti, or soldiers in Sierra Leone can tell you, in places tribal societies is narrowed to one’s immediate family and where the Western Enlightenment has not penetrated and guerrilla comrades, truces arranged with one Bosnian where there has always been mass poverty, people find commander, say, may be broken immediately by another liberation in violence. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, I Bosnian commander. The plethora of short-lived vicariously experienced this phenomenon: worrying about ceasefires in the Balkans and the Caucasus constitute mines and ambushes frees you from worrying about proof that we are no longer in a world where the old rules mundane details of daily existence. If my own experience of state warfare apply. More evidence is provided by the is too subjective, there is a wealth of data showing the destruction of medieval monuments in the Croatian port of sheer frequency of war, especially in the developing world Dubrovnik: when cultures, rather than states, fight, then since the Second World War. Physical aggression is a part cultural and religious monuments are weapons of war, of being human. Only when people attain a certain economic, educational, and cultural standard is this trait tranquilized. In light of the fact that 95 percent of the Also, war-making entities will no longer be restricted to a earth’s population growth will be in the poorest areas of specific territory. Loose and shadowy organisms such as the globe, the question is not whether there will be war Islamic terrorist organizations suggest why borders will (there will be a lot of it) but what kind of war. And who 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 Debunking the great military strategist Carl von religious . . . fanaticisms will play a larger role in the Clausewitz, Van Creveld, who may be the most original motivation of armed conflict" in the West than at any time thinker on war since that early-nineteenth-century "for the last 300 years," Van Creveld writes. This is why Prussian, writes, "Clausewitz’s ideas . . . were wholly analysts like Michael Vlahos are closely monitoring rooted in the fact that, ever since 1648, war had been religious cults. Vlahos says, "An ideology that challenges waged overwhelmingly by states." But, as Van Creveld us may not take familiar form, like the old Nazis or explains, the period of nation-states and, therefore, of Commies. It may not even engage us initially in ways that state conflict is now ending, and with it the clear "threefold fit old threat markings." Van Creveld concludes, "Armed division into government, army, and people" which conflict will be waged by men on earth, not robots in state-directed wars enforce. Thus, to see the future, the space. It will have more in common with the struggles of first step is to look back to the past immediately prior to the primitive tribes than with large-scale conventional war." birth of modernism--the wars in medieval Europe which While another military historian, John Keegan, in his new began during the Reformation and reached their book A History of Warfare, draws a more benign portrait of - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
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disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

primitive man, it is important to point out that what Van mean less, personal security more. The belief that we are Creveld really means is re-primitivized man: warrior all equal is liable to be replaced by the overriding societies operating at a time of unprecedented resource obsession of the ancient Greek travelers: Why the scarcity and planetary overcrowding.
Van Creveld’s pre-Westphalian vision of worldwide low-intensity conflict is not a superficial "back to the future" scenario. First of all, technology will be used toward In Geography and the Human Spirit, Anne Buttimer, a primitive ends. In Liberia the guerrilla leader Prince professor at University College, Dublin, recalls the work of Johnson didn’t just cut off the ears of President Samuel an early-nineteenth-century German geographer, Carl Doe before Doe was tortured to death in 1990--Johnson Ritter, whose work implied "a divine plan for humanity" made a video of it, which has circulated throughout West based on regionalism and a constant, living flow of forms. Africa. In December of 1992, when plotters of a failed coup The map of the future, to the extent that a map is even against the Strasser regime in Sierra Leone had their ears possible, will represent a perverse twisting of Ritter’s cut off at Freetown’s Hamilton Beach prior to being killed, it vision. Imagine cartography in three dimensions, as if in a was seen by many to be a copycat execution. Considering, hologram. In this hologram would be the overlapping as I’ve explained earlier, that the Strasser regime is not sediments of group and other identities atop the merely really a government and that Sierra Leone is not really a two-dimensional color markings of city-states and the nation-state, listen closely to Van Creveld: "Once the legal remaining nations, themselves confused in places by monopoly of armed force, long claimed by the state, is shadowy tentacles, hovering overhead, indicating the wrested out of its hands, existing distinctions between war power of drug cartels, mafias, and private security and crime will break down much as is already the case agencies. Instead of borders, there would be moving today in . . . Lebanon, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Peru, or "centers" of power, as in the Middle Ages. Many of these layers would be in motion. Replacing fixed and abrupt lines on a flat space would be a shifting pattern of buffer If crime and war become indistinguishable, then "national entities, like the Kurdish and Azeri buffer entities between defense" may in the future be viewed as a local concept. Turkey and Iran, the Turkic Uighur buffer entity between As crime continues to grow in our cities and the ability of Central Asia and Inner China (itself distinct from coastal state governments and criminal-justice systems to protect China), and the Latino buffer entity replacing a precise their citizens diminishes, urban crime may, according to U.S.-Mexican border. To this protean cartographic Van Creveld, "develop into low-intensity conflict by hologram one must add other factors, such as migrations coalescing along racial, religious, social, and political of populations, explosions of birth rates, vectors of lines." As small-scale violence multiplies at home and disease. Henceforward the map of the world will never be abroad, state armies will continue to shrink, being static. This future map--in a sense, the "Last Map"--will be gradually replaced by a booming private security business, an ever-mutating representation of chaos.
as in West Africa, and by urban mafias, especially in the former communist world, who may be better equipped than The Indian subcontinent offers examples of what is municipal police forces to grant physical protection to local happening. For different reasons, both India and Pakistan are increasingly dysfunctional. The argument over democracy in these places is less and less relevant to the Future wars will be those of communal survival, larger issue of governability. In India’s case the question aggravated or, in many cases, caused by environmental arises, Is one unwieldy bureaucracy in New Delhi the best scarcity. These wars will be subnational, meaning that it available mechanism for promoting the lives of 866 million will be hard for states and local governments to protect people of diverse languages, religions, and ethnic groups? their own citizens physically. This is how many states will ultimately die. As state power fades--and with it the state’s ability to help weaker groups within society, not to mention when the Indian population was much less than half as other states--peoples and cultures around the world will be large and nation-building idealism was still strong, the thrown back upon their own strengths and weaknesses, argument for democracy was more impressive than it is with fewer equalizing mechanisms to protect them. now. Given that in 2025 India’s population could be close Whereas the distant future will probably see the to 1.5 billion, that much of its economy rests on a shrinking emergence of a racially hybrid, globalized man, the coming natural-resource base, including dramatically declining decades will see us more aware of our differences than of water levels, and that communal violence and urbanization our similarities. To the average person, political values will are spiraling upward, it is difficult to imagine that the Indian - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

state will survive the next century. India’s oft-trumpeted Egypt could be where climatic upheaval--to say nothing of Green Revolution has been achieved by overworking its the more immediate threat of increasing population--will croplands and depleting its watershed. Norman Myers, a incite religious upheaval in truly biblical fashion. Natural British development consultant, worries that Indians have catastrophes, such as the October, 1992, Cairo "been feeding themselves today by borrowing against their earthquake, in which the government failed to deliver relief aid and slum residents were in many instances helped by their local mosques, can only strengthen the position of Pakistan’s problem is more basic still: like much of Africa, Islamic factions. In a statement about greenhouse the country makes no geographic or demographic sense. It warming which could refer to any of a variety of natural was founded as a homeland for the Muslims of the catastrophes, the environmental expert Jessica Tuchman subcontinent, yet there are more subcontinental Muslims Matthews warns that many of us underestimate the extent outside Pakistan than within it. Like Yugoslavia, Pakistan to which political systems, in affluent societies as well as in is a patchwork of ethnic groups, increasingly in violent places like Egypt, "depend on the underpinning of natural conflict with one another. While the Western media gushes systems." She adds, "The fact that one can move with over the fact that the country has a woman Prime Minister, ease from Vermont to Miami has nothing to say about the Benazir Bhutto, Karachi is becoming a subcontinental consequences of Vermont acquiring Miami’s climate." version of Lagos. In eight visits to Pakistan, I have never gotten a sense of a cohesive national identity. With as Indeed, it is not clear that the United States will survive the much as 65 percent of its land dependent on intensive next century in exactly its present form. Because America irrigation, with wide-scale deforestation, and with a yearly is a multi-ethnic society, the nation-state has always been population growth of 2.7 percent (which ensures that the more fragile here than it is in more homogeneous societies amount of cultivated land per rural inhabitant will like Germany and Japan. James Kurth, in an article plummet), Pakistan is becoming a more and more published in The National Interest in 1992, explains that desperate place. As irrigation in the Indus River basin whereas nation-state societies tend to be built around a intensifies to serve two growing populations, Muslim-Hindu mass-conscription army and a standardized public school strife over falling water tables may be unavoidable.
system, "multicultural regimes" feature a high-tech, all-volunteer army (and, I would add, private schools that "India and Pakistan will probably fall apart," Homer-Dixon teach competing values), operating in a culture in which predicts. "Their secular governments have less and less the international media and entertainment industry has legitimacy as well as less management ability over people more influence than the "national political class." In other and resources." Rather than one bold line dividing the words, a nation-state is a place where everyone has been subcontinent into two parts, the future will likely see a lot of educated along similar lines, where people take their cue thinner lines and smaller parts, with the ethnic entities of from national leaders, and where everyone (every male, at Pakhtunistan and Punjab gradually replacing Pakistan in least) has gone through the crucible of military service, the space between the Central Asian plateau and the heart making patriotism a simpler issue. Writing about his immigrant family in turn-of-the-century Chicago, Saul Bellow states, "The country took us over. It was a country None of this even takes into account climatic change, then, not a collection of ’cultures.’" which, if it occurs in the next century, will further erode the capacity of existing states to cope. India, for instance, During the Second World War and the decade following it, receives 70 percent of its precipitation from the monsoon the United States reached its apogee as a classic cycle, which planetary warming could disrupt.
nation-state. During the 1960s, as is now clear, America began a slow but unmistakable process of transformation. Not only will the three-dimensional aspects of the Last The signs hardly need belaboring: racial polarity, Map be in constant motion, but its two-dimensional base educational dysfunction, social fragmentation of many and may change too. The National Academy of Sciences various kinds. William Irwin Thompson, in Passages About reports that "as many as one billion people, or 20 per cent Earth: An Exploration of the New Planetary Culture, writes, of the world’s population, live on lands likely to be "The educational system that had worked on the Jews or inundated or dramatically changed by rising waters. . . . the Irish could no longer work on the blacks; and when Low-lying countries in the developing world such as Egypt Jewish teachers in New York tried to take black children and Bangladesh, where rivers are large and the deltas away from their parents exactly in the way they had been extensive and densely populated, will be hardest hit. . . . taken from theirs, they were shocked to encounter a Where the rivers are dammed, as in the case of the Nile, the effects . . . will be especially severe." - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -
The Atlantic Monthly
Feb 1994 v273 n2 p 44(21)
The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and
disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.

Issues like West Africa could yet emerge as a new kind of flight to set out for New York. Once we were in New York, foreign-policy issue, further eroding America’s domestic despite the midnight hour, immigration officials at Kennedy peace. The spectacle of several West African nations Airport held up disembarkation by conducting quick collapsing at once could reinforce the worst racial interrogations of the aircraft’s passengers--this was in stereotypes here at home. That is another reason why addition to all the normal immigration and customs Africa matters. We must not kid ourselves: the sensitivity procedures. It was apparent that drug smuggling, disease, factor is higher than ever. The Washington, D.C., public and other factors had contributed to the toughest security school system is already experimenting with an Afrocentric procedures I have ever encountered when returning from curriculum. Summits between African leaders and prominent African-Americans are becoming frequent, as are Pollyanna-ish prognostications about multiparty Then, for the first time in over a month, I spotted elections in Africa that do not factor in crime, surging birth businesspeople with attache cases and laptop computers. rates, and resource depletion. The Congressional Black When I had left New York for Abidjan, all the Caucus was among those urging U.S. involvement in businesspeople were boarding planes for Seoul and Somalia and in Haiti. At the Los Angeles Times minority Tokyo, which departed from gates near Air Afrique’s. The staffers have protested against, among other things, what only non-Africans off to West Africa had been relief they allege to be the racist tone of the newspaper’s Africa workers in T-shirts and khakis. Although the borders within coverage, allegations that the editor of the "World Report" West Africa are increasingly unreal, those separating West section, Dan Fisher, denies, saying essentially that Africa Africa from the outside world are in various ways should be viewed through the same rigorous analytical But Afrocentrists are right in one respect: we ignore this Africa may be marginal in terms of conventional dying region at our own risk. When the Berlin Wall was late-twentieth-century conceptions of strategy, but in an falling, in November of 1989, I happened to be in Kosovo, age of cultural and racial clash, when national defense is covering a riot between Serbs and Albanians. The future increasingly local, Africa’s distress will exert a destabilizing was in Kosovo, I told myself that night, not in Berlin. The same day that Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat clasped hands on the White House lawn, my Air Afrique plane was This and many other factors will make the United States approaching Bamako, Mali, revealing corrugated-zinc less of a nation than it is today, even as it gains territory shacks at the edge of an expanding desert. The real news following the peaceful dissolution of Canada. Quebec, wasn’t at the White House, I realized. It was right below. based on the bedrock of Roman Catholicism and -------------------- Robert D. Kaplan is a contributing editor of Francophone ethnicity, could yet turn out to be North The Atlantic Monthly. His article in this issue (February, America’s most cohesive and crime-free nation-state. (It 1994) will be expanded into a book he is writing for may be a smaller Quebec, though, since aboriginal Random House, with support from the U.S. Institute of peoples may lop off northern parts of the province.) Peace and the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
"Patriotism" will become increasingly regional as people in Alberta and Montana discover that they have far more in common with each other than they do with Ottawa or Washington, and Spanish-speakers in the Southwest discover a greater commonality with Mexico City. (The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau, a book about the continent’s regionalization, is more relevant now than when it was published, in 1981.) As Washington’s influence wanes, and with it the traditional symbols of American patriotism, North Americans will take psychological refuge in their insulated communities and cultures.
Returning from West Africa last fall was an illuminating ordeal. After leaving Abidjan, my Air Afrique flight landed in Dakar, Senegal, where all passengers had to disembark in order to go through another security check, this one demanded by U.S. authorities before they would permit the - Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. -

Source: http://sobek.colorado.edu/~blimes/Kaplan%20-%20The%20COming%20Anarchy.pdf

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