Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Malthus and Hobbes, together again

Yesterday I had conversation with a Russian guy wearing a black shirt about the possibility of an Obama presidency. He immediately ran to the scenario of an Obama assassination and the geopolitical risks to which it would expose us. I will comment on the Obama assassination question under separate cover.

This morning I receive an excerpt from the The Guardian, which has gotten its hands on a report by EU Foreign Policy doyenne Javier Solana (what was his old job, head of UN?) predicting that the race for Arctic petrochemical reserves between the USA and Russia will precipitate "security issues for Europe, ranging from energy wars to mass migration, failed states and political radicalization," and that Europe should plan for these things.

I need only turn my head to the right to read a fellow commuter's Wall Street Journal article on Australia's quest for salt-free water. Luckily they're unlikely to start a war over it.

It seems we are in a neo-Malthusian moment which everywhere focuses on scarcity of resources and risk of conflagration, which is rather tricky for those of us with small children, who have come to believe that eschatological scenarios were long since relegated to Bruce Willis movies, 9/11 notwithstanding. Could there be a really big war in our time? Are our international institutions strong enough to resist it? Recent evidence has been mixed, but world war would kinda suck.

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