Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

The Rise of All

Academic journal article Connections : The Quarterly Journal

The Rise of All

Article excerpt

Introduction: What Will the World Look Like in 2050?

In the 1950s, there was much speculation as to what would happen if mankind ventured into outer space. Both Soviet and U.S. scientists were forced to speculate about how objects would perform above the atmosphere without knowing what would truly happen. TIROS I, for example, was the first successful orbit-sustaining satellite, designed to map the earth's weather. It was launched by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 1 April I960.1 Thirty years later, NASA turned the TIROS technology around and started looking outward, towards deep space. In 1990, NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and created some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, thereby allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to significant breakthroughs in astrophysics. By taking modem theory from communications satellites and looking outward instead of toward Earth, or "reversing the lens," scientists were able to discover a new universe. But could scientists have accurately predicted the Internet, a rover on Mars, or hypersonic travel in the 1950s?

In the field of political science, there is often a similar practice of taking previous observations and using them to try to build pictures of what world governments will look like in the future. Evidence would show, however, that there is a lack of current consensus among academics on what the world order will look like over the next fifty years. Will it finally be the end of Charles Krauthammer's "Unipolar Moment"2 for the United States, as the world transitions to Giovanni Grevi's "Interpolar world"?3 Or will the world develop an equilibrium solution to the "political trilemma" between global democracy, national determination, and economic globalization proposed by Harvard professor Dani Rodrik?4 Perhaps it could develop into a "G-Zero" world, as proposed by Ian Bremmer, where every state fends for itself?5 Additionally, what of the possibility that the U.S. might face a steady relative decline, while the remaining states experience Fareed Zakaria's "Rise of the Rest"?6 Particular difficulties arrive when trying to analyze the end of the Cold War, the rapid rise of Brazil, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS), the formation of the European Union, and the deep entrenchment of the global war on terror. With so many chaotic events, political scientists are left striving to paint a coherent picture that accurately predicts the future state of the world.

Sometimes, when scientists are left without a feasible theoretical basis for understanding effects in play, they look to other fields of study to identify an applicable method that might help them toward new discoveries in their own field. In the late 1980s, an air power theorist named Colonel John Warden developed an "Air Theory for the Twenty-first Century."7 This common-sense theory provided a "Five-Rings Model" lens through which strategic-level planners could examine a state and determine how best to go about dismantling a regime using the tool of military intervention. The theory breaks a state down into five basic centers of gravity (a concept proposed in the 1820s by the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz), which military forces can then attack to impose strategic paralysis on an enemy. "Reversing the lens" of this theory, we can use the Five-Rings Model to examine how to build up (instead of surgically destroy) a state. However, the modem state is influenced by a factor that is much more prevalent now than in the late 1980s, when Warden developed his theory: globalization. Adding a sixth ring of globalization to the model adds another dimension to the lens with which we can examine the state. To completely understand the effects of this theory on the construct of global governance, we must first examine in more detail the Six Rings, which are Leadership, System Essentials, Infrastructure, Population, Fielded Military Forces, and Globalization. …

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