Future Wars: Meeting the Challenges
Dr. Werner Fasslabend
Member of the Parliament of Austria
Former Minister of Defense
Dr. Werner Fasslabend
"The most important topic [for China] will certainly be Taiwan. Why? Because this is possibly a hot spot between the interests of the United States and the interests of China."
Within the notion of a broader security policy, I think that wars, due to the demographic explosion and to climate change, will have the highest priority in the future. And these wars, which will depend on goals, resources, and, of course, technical standards, will be led in different ways. For me, the question of who will start the war is the beginning of an answer. I see two major groups: states and non-governmental organizations such as tribes or different ethnic groups, and especially private war organizations. Al-Qaeda certainly was a breakthrough in the latter, because it went from a regional stage to a global one. I believe we will be confronted by similar phenomena in the future.
What can we do? I assume that in the future we will have five or six, or at least three and a half, real players on the global stage, and that the relationship among them and their regional influences will be not only important but decisive as to whether or not we will have peace. The questions of regional order and global order are therefore crucial for us.
SIGNIFICANT WORLD HOT SPOTS
But everyone will have problems. For China, the province of Xinjiang, the China Sea, Eastern Siberia, and the countrys predominance in southeast Asia are all very important, but the most important topic will certainly be Taiwan. Why? Because this is possibly a hot spot between the interests of the United States and the interests of China. Bringing Taiwan back home to China would mean, on the one hand, that the belt of islands and peninsulas between the United States and the Asian mainland would be interrupted, so there is certainly some American interest in holding Taiwan in the U.S. zone of influence. Probably this is a question of time and involves the tendency toward independence, but whichever side it goes to, Taiwan, in my view, will be the hottest spot during the next 20 or 30 years.
Regarding India, probably Satish Chandra can tell us much more. But there will be new threats as I see it, not only because of climate change or a demographic explosion, but also because of the question of who will influence Southeast Asia. Of course the situation in India is not isolated, but will correspond to the situation of the fast-rising Chinese power.
Russia will also have problems. I will not say much about them, but a new one will involve Eastern Siberia. The so-called unequal treaties from the Nineteenth century and the demographic explosion in China, together with climate change, will bring this question to the front. You can imagine that something will happen if you realize that every year, even with the one-child rule, the population of China increases by between 30 and 35 million people; within two years China increased its population more than the whole population of France. Compare that with the 150 million Russians in the vast Russian empire.
The Middle East will certainly remain another big problem, and the outcome will depend on what the United States is able to do there. But I want to warn you about thinking this is an Islamic question. This is not an Islamic question. It is just the consequence of geography and an issue of some regional countries having major power and the Islamic states being unable to form a genuine power. If we build a picture of an Islamic threat, then we will get one and we will not be able to handle it. We will lose it, I am absolutely sure. I think we must spend a good deal of time thinking this over.
MEETING THE CHALLENGES
How can we minimize the risk? Of course, we must establish something like a global order system, at least a structure. We must define the in-between states because there is a bank of small and slightly larger countries in-between the big powers. We must also define the most sensible points to concentrate on and we must try to take clear steps to define the priorities.
The question of the Middle East is the highest priority for me at the moment, and when you get right down to it you see that it is, in reality, a question of a few square miles in Palestinewhich side they will go to. But this issue does not only threaten the security of the United States, Europe, and the Middle East itself, but it may be decisive as to whether the United States keeps or loses its world dominance. I underline every word General Naumann said, and believe that we have to make these facts even clearer. And we have to act decisively.
At present, the most important thing is to not give private war organizations like Al-Qaeda a chance. What I mean by that is that the biggest danger is polarization, polarization within the Arab and Islamic societies. In the short term you can only go to the cells and wipe them out, but in the long term you have to go to the roots and find the reason why, the background of the problem. Polarization will give private war organizations more strength; one of their major goals is to polarize society and in that way get financing and recruit forces. We must not give them this chance. First, we must integrate all the minorities in our homeland, in the United States and in Europe, and next we must cooperate intensively not only with the governments but specific societies in countries in which private war organizations play a role.
In conclusion, I see a political window in 2005. The year after the American presidential election could be the year we get a least one step further in the Middle East. I hope we will manage to find some solutions that will be decisive for the next 10 or 15 years.