The foundations of World War III are being laid today.
American defeat in Iraq is only a matter of time, but how long it takes matters a lot. The fate of Iraq is a sideshow, the terrorist threat is a red herring, and the radical Islamists' dream of a worldwide jihad against the West is a fantasy, but the attempt to revive Pax Americana is real. No matter what the outcome of the election in November, 2004, the enterprise is likely to continue. It is bound to fail eventually, but we need it to fail soon.
American military power is not limitless, and the other big powers will not stand for US military domination of the world. They don't buy the cover story about the 'terrorist threat,' but they don't want a fight either. They are all on hold for the moment, hoping that America will remember its commitment to the United Nations, the rule of law and multilateralism. If it does not, then the drift back into alliances, balance-of-power politics and military confrontations will begin. Ten years from now, an American-led alliance that includes India and occupies much of the Middle East could be facing a European alliance led by France, Germany and Russia AND a hostile, heavily armed China.
In Future Tense, Gwynne Dyer's brilliant follow up to last year's bestselling Ignorant Armies, he analyzes how the world made its way to the brink of disaster, and describes how we may all slide over the edge. It was fringe groups of extremists - Islamist fanatics and American neo-conservatives - who set the process in motion, but it has gone well beyond that now. It is not too late, but the clock is running.