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What are the biggest threats to world security?

Politics-world Greatest threat 2004

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#1 MuseZack

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 08:16 PM

Okay, everyone, this is a chance to move beyond partisanship toward a serious look at what threats face the US and the world at large in the coming months and years.   So what are your biggest fears in this regard, in terms ot the likeliest threats?  I'll list my top three near-term ones, in ascending order.

3:  A failing and desperate North Korea makes belligerent noises, perhaps starts a fight with the South.  The US retaliates by bombing suspected weapons sites.  NK goes apes--- and unloads its thousands of artillery pieces at Seoul, perhaps lobs a nuke at Japan or even the US west coast.

2:  Revolution in Saudi Arabia overthrows the corrupt monarchy, but what replaces it is even worse-- a Wahabi dicatatorship sympathetic to Al Qaeda and willing to use oil as a weapon.

1: (by far)  A coup in Pakistan deposes Musharaf and replaces him with a Taliban-like government-- in charge of 120 million people and armed with nuclear weapons.  Hilarity ensues.
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#2 Uncle Sid

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 08:31 PM

All three of Zack's in order, but also a number 4:

Islamic fundementalists go nuts in Central Asia and in the Caspian region and really put some hurt on Russia and Russian client governments.  Russia under Putin and Friends™ gets medieval.  Well...even more medieval than they already are.

Edited by Uncle Sid, 25 March 2004 - 09:16 PM.

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#3 G1223

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 08:44 PM

China goes into military buildup and starts to build a actual navy prsence..  And presses against the breakaway provinces with threat of force. ( That is why the French add in does not help) They also force Vietnam to give up claim to the islands off the coast which have oil.  Also pulling South Korea into their sphere of influnce.


Middle eastern terroists commit a biological weapons attack against  the US or a Western European country.


Russia/China fight over Siberia

#4 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 08:53 PM

I agree with Uncle Sid.  zack I don't want to sidetrack your thread but in your view do things that someone thinks threaten "the American way of life" count (regardless of whether someone thinks that threat is internal or external)?  Lemme know.
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#5 Corwin

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:01 PM

Nice topic Zack!  

I'll answer yours first because they are very relevant concerns.

3.  North Korea...  They've had a very long track record of popping about every 6-8 years and grumbling and rumbling and threatening world devestation.. and nothing has happened yet.....  -BUT- With their leader seemingly getting more demented every year, and now that they have nuclear weapons as well as ICBM's, I do feel that this is a very real threat to the entire world's security...  Hopefully with enough diplomatic pressure, he'll back down again....

2.  Saudi Arabia  - I do not see this happening to this Kingdom.  They have always been one of the more tolerant and open Arab nations.  However.....  I do see this as a very real possibility in some other places in the East... like Malaysia instead.....  (but then again, they don't have the oil reserves)

1.  Pakistan....  -  This is a distinct possibility and could get very bloody for everyone before the fallout settled (okay... double entendre there).


Okay.. Now for my major concerns.....  In no particular order.....

North Korea....  definitely a major threat....for the reasons that I stated above and that Zack has already articulated.

Kashmir -  Pakistan and India have both come to blows over this for a long time.. now they both have nukes....  all it takes is for one hothead or terrorist to set off something and the whole region could go up in a fireball the likes of which we haven't seen since WWII.....  and the terrorists have already struck on both sides.....  wasn't it terrorists that bombed the Pakistani Parliament building a few years ago.. shortly after 9-11?   I've been seeing this fight going literally nuclear since 1990.


Terrorist Organization - hotspots all over the world - With terrorists and dictators being on the run pretty much world-wide, they band together for support and are able to hit numerous soft targets mostly in 3rd world countries as well as trying to forment rebellions.  There could be so many hotspots that we (world forces) could be overwhelmed in the short run, and unable to respond to threats  (Look at recent events in places like the Phillipines, and Sierra Leone.  There are numerous others.)  While not on the threat level to world security like my other 2 threats are, this still would have a huge impact on world opinion and morale, and could lead to some countries changing policies out of fear of reprisals.


Personally, I feel that Korea is our number one threat..... with the Kashmir conflict being number 2, although Zack's scenario of a coup in Pakistan is very unsettling.

Corwin
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#6 Kevin Street

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:06 PM

My number one and number two picks are interrelated:

1. Climate change. No one knows just how much or how fast our environment is changing, but it's inarguable that some sort of alterations are occuring. If the shifts are dramatic and swift, then studies have shown that the effect on our security and our standard of living could be catastrophic, but if the effects are slower and more manageable, then we may be able to deal with them, but there will be a considerable economic cost either way. We need to plan for the worst, and prepare our institutions for the ability to handle change. (For instance, can the United States afford to build dikes around its major seaports?) It wouldn't hurt if the government started to save money now with this in mind.

2. Resource depletion. There's only so much oil, natural gas, arable land, and fresh water in the world, and the population is still growing. Here we face the problem that Earth is fundamentally a closed system, but there's no limiting factor on our population growth. In fact, the supllies of almost all our critical resources are shrinking, even as demand continues to increase. In the next twenty-five years or so we may start to see conflicts over resource allocation if things aren't distributed on a more equitable basis. We need to start figuring out how to do that now before the water wars start. Is there a basis in international law for the necessary treaties? Who would enforce resource sharing agreements?

3. Disease. With last year's outbreaks of SARs and Mad Cow Disease, and this year's outbreak of Avian Flu in Asia, we got a vivid reminder that humanity's old enemy pestilence is still a major threat to civilization. If the long overdue influenza pandemic hit us now, would our complex interconnected technological society be able to handle the strain? What would happen if a virulent disease killed most of the doctors, nurses and health care workers? We need to be ready with disaster plans now more than ever, since climate change and increasing urbanization are opening up parts of the world that have never seen human beings before, and all of the buried diseases there are begining to come into contact with us.

I don't see any specific nation or region as an extremely likely threat to western security, but I do think we have to prepare ourselves for certain possibilities, and do our best to prevent them from ever coming to pass.
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#7 MuseZack

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:15 PM

Lil, go for it!
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#8 Rov Judicata

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:30 PM

Here's an unlikely one: Partisan politics, because so many of the others stem from it. What the world needs is the democracies to show that our way of government truly is superior, and that it can be exported... and we're failing. The squabbling between Kerry and Bush* is extremely problematic. In a year where we need unity more than any other, both politicians are trying to create as many wedges and divisions as they can. It has to stop.

If we can get our politicians to put their country ahead of their party, we'd make strides in all the other areas. To use a US example, surely the Republicans know that relying on oil for so much of our energy is unworkable, and the best thing about the country is to heavily invest in alternatives... and, similarly, surely the Democrats realize that calling our allies in Iraq an "illegitimate coalition" and devaluing their contributions is bad for the country**. Feel free to export this to your own country.

We need a fewer politicians, and a more statesmen. Sadly, it looks like the latter is in short supply, on all fronts.

*And if you try to lay blame on either party in this thread, I'll deck you. :p.
**First examples that came to mind. Change it to whatever you want. The point still stands.
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#9 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:35 PM

Thanks.  Okay I think that there are different internal threats to the American Way of Life™ and since how things go here can and does affect the rest of the world...

(and note this is not meant to be partisan, it's me making observations).

I think that the Democratic Party is in big trouble.  I think that it has lost the guts to have a set of principles and stick to it, a set of principles that sets it sufficiently apart from the Republican Party and will appeal to a segment of this country's population that truly *is* ready for a change but really needs to hear something other than how evil the incumbent is.  Why do I think this is a threat?  Because it affects the balance and I think we need balance.

I think that the prospect of any president who thinks the answer to a state or city that refuses to adapt his personal views of something like same sex marriage is to suggest a constitutional amendment is indicative of a president that has lost sight of the concept of checks and balances and separation of power.  I think it's also indicative of a world leader who believes that the end justifies the means.  The reason I believe this is a threat is that for each of the very justifiably raised international issues already mentioned in this thread, a significant part of the whole equation is the answer to the question "How will the United States respond" and right now I'm not feeling sanguine about the answer.  Again, this is not a "bash Bush" thing but a concern I have about the entire administration and about the role of the Executive Branch.

Finally I think that the American Economy continues to stagger along and I strongly believe that the economic health of this country impacts the rest of the world.

Anyways some additional thoughts.
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#10 Chipper

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:38 PM

Rov --

vote McCain! :D  If only...

Lil is right.  Our government needs to realize separation of powers, checks and balances, and separation of church and state are supposed to be preserved.  Not squandered for the views of those in power.  Both Democrat and REpublican.
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#11 Corwin

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:43 PM

Lil, you are 100% correct.

:)
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#12 Bad Wolf

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:46 PM

Corwin, on Mar 25 2004, 06:41 PM, said:

Lil, you are 100% correct.

:)
:eek4:   :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:

:cool:
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#13 Corwin

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 09:55 PM

Una Salus Lillius, on Mar 25 2004, 08:44 PM, said:

Corwin, on Mar 25 2004, 06:41 PM, said:

Lil, you are 100% correct.

:)
:eek4:   :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:  :eek4:

:cool:
Yeah, I know I'm most definitely a conservative.. but the democrat party did used to stand for something.  The country does need that earnest leadership (on both sides) to help fuel Openminded debates that move the country forward instead of mired in partisan bickering and as a check to keep one side or the other from running rampant over our rights.

Rov is also correct... We need a hell of a lot more statesmen and a lot less politicians....


and shock...   I've voted for... yes.. Democrats... and I enjoyed it to...  

:o

Corwin
"The Enemy is upon us, so Lock and Load, Brothers.  The Emperor Calls and the Forces of Chaos must be driven back.  Though all of us will fall, none of us shall fail!"

#14 Uncle Sid

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 10:01 PM

I'll be the first person to tell you that I wish there was a pro-life party out there that believed in fiscal conservatism and *responsible* social justice that wasn't as eeeeevil as the Republicans have come off as.  

Unfortunately, right now we're stuck with Pinky and The Brain as the two parties in charge of our government and it is somewhat of a problem.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. - Jack Handey

#15 Nikcara

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 10:16 PM

Chemical and biological weapons.

There's really nothing we can do against them, they're hard to predict, and they can come in so many forms.  And I'm not just talking about anthrax and the like, though those are difficult enough.
I mean like infecting herds of cattle in this country with CCHF.  The cows carry it without symptoms but when it transmits to humans it has some obsene death rate that I'm forgetting the exact number to.  There are other diseases too that can be used against livestock (hell, it doesn't even have to be that deadly to humans, but what would the econimic and fear impact be if we had to kill 100s or 1,000s of herds of animals?  And don't tell me it would be hard to get a culture of something like hoof-and-mouth)  Beyond that, the fact that the USSR did a lot of research on bio weapons and a lot of the scientists *and* cultures disappeared while the fall of the Soviets.  Hell, they did things like splice ebola with smallpox.  What could we do about that, save scramble for a vaccine while people died in droves?  Things like that in the hands of terrorists scare me.

Well, that and overpopulation.
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#16 schoolpsycho

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 10:18 PM

Drugs and Fake IDs.

And the separation of Church and State is in name only.

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#17 the 'Hawk

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 10:38 PM

Short-term?

Prolonged Islamist terror campaigns abroad. Madrid should not goad them on.

A return to isolationism from the US.

Badness between Russia and China. Nothing like two collapsing nuclear powers who decide to revitalize their respective nations with a little street fight.


Long-term?

A continued erosion of the responsibility and credibility of the United Nations.

:cool:
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#18 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 11:51 PM

I like your list Zack…  I also toss in Kashmir, China/Russia, and piracy on the high seas as security matter.  


Quote

Hawk: A continued erosion of the responsibility and credibility of the United Nations.

This one is relative...  I consider any growth in the responsibilities and credibility of the United Nations to be a threat to continued world security considering the track record of the buffoons.  
:cool:
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#19 MuseZack

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 11:58 PM

Let's talk China in a little more detail, because I think a lot of us are thinking along the same lines.  I think China isn't really a short term problem because as long as its economy keeps growing at a rapid pace, it can keep a lid on internal dissent and continue to make nice with the rest of east Asia because it needs the rest of the region for markets, investment, and raw materials.

Simply put, right now China is more interested in becoming a rich country than in making trouble.

China becomes potentially more ominous in the medium term, under one of two scenarios:

1:  A powerful economy and modernized military leads China to become more aggressive in asserting what it sees as its place as the pre-eminent country in Asia.

2:  China's economic engine sputters and the time to pay the piper on the nation's environmental devastation finally arrives, leading to internal instability and lashing out at neighbors, either to grab resources or whip up nationalism as a distraction from internal strife.

Any thoughts?

Zack
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#20 Delvo

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Posted 26 March 2004 - 01:00 AM

OK, just for fun, I'll talk about something most people think would be a good development that I see as an impending disaster, and something most people think would be a disaster that I see good in.

In general, I'm thinking like Kevin here, looking at it in Jared Diamondish terms of biology, ecology, and resources in stead of sociology and politics.

Global warming: The main limiting factor on overall biotic production on Earth is that the planet's gotten too cold. Additional heat might make the tropics slightly warmer or not, but that's OK. But the main thing it would do is free life to really grow again where it's currently too cold. And the bulk of at least two continents where little grows would have life again. Even if humans didn't move into and utilize all of that currently locked-away land, it would still ease the pressure on our resources anyway, and there's something to be said for the chance to have some places where life will be plentiful in nature and yet humans choose not to invade it and take it over as well, like we have with so much land in the regions that aren't currently so cold.

Now for the "good" thing that I worry about the repurcussions of: scientists in a technologically advanced Occidental country inventing a way to get energy that can replace the use of fossil fuels. The Middle East can not sustain itself without selling oil to outsiders; yank that rug out from under them, and watch northern Africa and southern/southwestern Asia proceed to make central and southern Africa look utopic.



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