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Alternative World Scenarios for a New Order of Nations

Authored by Dr. Charles W. Taylor.

January 01, 1993

120 Pages

Brief Synopsis

This futures book reflects the global trends and events of the recent past and those of today that are bringing about change to the world's political, economic, social, technological, and military environments. The forecasts found throughout the book are derived from analysis of the open literature and other media, the author's experience as a futurist, and his own futures writings. This book was written as a text and guide for long-range planners, policymakers, and others. It provides a set of plausible scenarios against which users can build policies and decisions while anticipating and judging their consequences before implementation.


This book is written to provide decisionmakers, policymakers, long-range planners, and others interested in the future a means to compare the consequences of their actions taken today to plausible, future alternative world environments or scenarios. Earlier work by the author has provided the four basic scenarios which are easily monitored for updating. Scenario updating is a task that is advisable at least every 5 years to maintain the usefulness of the scenarios. The text presented here describes the processes and methods for the creation of alternative scenarios and the use of the Cone of Plausibility (described in Creating Strategic Visions, Taylor, 1990) to project the scenarios 10 to 30 years or more into the future. The text also supports and is based on the following two previous writings of the author, Alternative World Scenarios for Strategic Planning (Taylor, 1988 and 1990) and A World 2010: A New Order of Nations (Taylor, 1992).

Changing trends and the occurrences of associated events (e.g., the demise of the Soviet Union and decline of Soviet communism; the rise of democratic governments; environmental pollution), especially during the last two decades of the 20th century, have created a new era of forced transition for the world's modernized industrial nations. For example, the military of the United States and its defense-oriented industries have been recast into a reformation of conflict/war-based strategies to conflict/peace-based strategies. The military is faced with a forced transition from warfighting missions to missions of peace maintenance: peace-enforcement, -making, -keeping, and -building. Military leaders who view security and defense as an integral part of a strong, but peaceful, economic, and political infrastructure sustained by superior national military strategies increasingly will dominate the U.S. defense rhetoric.

Most industries of the military-industrial complex that are or will be retooling in the late 1990s from defense production to that of domestic, almost certainly will meet the expected demands of the largely peace-driven national and global economies of the future. From a 20th century view, it would appear that once defense industries have retooled for non-defense production they very likely will be unable to reverse the process easily. From a 21st century view, scientific innovations and technological achievements in the century's first decade almost certainly will have advanced military weaponry and ancillary equipment for warfighting enough to make most of 20th century warfare obsolescent. The retrofitting of 20th century weapons platforms (aircraft, ships, or armored tanks) with 21st century technology almost certainly would be like putting new wine in old bottles.

Economies of the world's nations very likely will no longer be bound by an adversarial political-military relationship of the United States and the former Soviet Union that for nearly 50 years steadily increased defense budgets and national debts. There is little likelihood that the United States or any other nation with large budget deficit problems will overcome them. Expenditures in the so-called peace dividends (former defense expenditures applied to non-defense programs), will likely reduce the deficit only gradually, if at all. During the late years of the 20th century and by 2005 and beyond, nations will have increasing opportunities to establish free-market economies and democratic governments and to increase economic growth, all of which could very likely reduce national debts. Military planners must prepare for the future under current (1994) budgetary reductions, which in comparison to past lush years appear even more austere, through analysis of future world scenarios to determine the extent of the range and types of future conflicts that likely will involve the military. They must also analyze the fit of training, doctrine, and strategy to types of conflict and match technological advancements with conflict strategies.

For this to be accomplished, futurists must construct or synthesize descriptive scenarios from probable future world environments. Planners, in order to identify and understand the challenges that might exist in the future, should make projections of trends from the near future (2-5 years) to the longer range future (20-30 years or more), while evaluating the impact and interaction of consequences along the way. Trends would include the economic, social, business and industrial infrastructures of a nation or the world, as well as science and technology. This study assists planners and decision makers to view multiple future environments since a single view or projection of a future global environment would be deterministic, i.e., predictive, and would be too chancy.

This study presents four plausible views or scenarios of the global environment of the future in which the United States might exist. The study and the scenarios contain many forecasts. Their purpose is not just to represent one futurist's view of the future, but to bring together four logical and plausible scenarios that are useful to long-range planners. The scenarios are ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, and DELTA. They appear in synopsis in chapter 3 and in full narrative in chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. They are presented briefly in the paragraphs below with their descriptive titles.

SCENARIO ALPHA: U.S. Isolationist.

Scenario ALPHA depicts a relatively peaceful world where the U.S. perception of an external threat is low and the size of its military force is small. The U.S. leadership and its business infrastructure in this international environment have turned toward isolationism. In general, the concerns of the U.S. leadership and its citizens are directed more toward deficit reduction and greater budgetary investments in social welfare, educational, and environmental programs than in programs for space, science and technology, defense, or foreign economic and military aid.

A rise of nationalism throughout many nations of the world, including nations with prior long-term agreements with the United States, has suppressed U.S. international influence and has precluded U.S. military presence overseas. Local U.S. community infrastructures (economies, politics, resources, and demographics) are inhibiting military stationing, training, and installation activities.

The U.S. defense budget has plummeted significantly since the turn of the century. By 2020 the pressures of congressional environmentalists have forced the closure of many of the remaining military bases that were not closed around 2005. The U.S. armed services have been reorganized into a joint/unified configuration called the General Defense Force (GDF). The warfighting GDF is made up of Land Defense Forces (LDF), Sea Defense Forces (SDF), and Air and Space Defense Forces (ASDF).

SCENARIO BRAVO: U.S. World Peacekeeper.

Scenario BRAVO describes a competitive world of economic trade markets where an undercurrent of external threats and contentions, both economic and military, to U.S. interests are perceptibly increasing. Worldwide, U.S. economic and military assistance agreements are many and are backed by a large U.S. peacekeeping military force. A tradeoff of nationalism for economic development and representative government by many nations worldwide has strengthened U.S. international influence, preserved U.S. investments, and assured the United States of a military presence overseas. The presence of U.S. industries, with their advanced facilities and know-how, is visible and productive in most nations of the world.

Throughout the continental United States, nearly all local communities have accepted military service men and women as part of the community family. Defense budgets are strongly supported by the American public, as are budgets for welfare, education, and the environment. The leadership and citizens of most U.S. local communities underpin and encourage military stationing and installation investments in their neighborhoods without conditions.

Over the past decade or so, the leadership in the U.S. Congresses and the Administrations have advocated a strong military defense. Sizeable and costly military exercises since 2005 continue to be conducted worldwide, some with Russia, the leader of a confederacy named the Union of Sovereign Republics (USR). In BRAVO, the U.S. military budget has increased substantially since the turn of the century because of an apparent increase in a USR threat to world peace. Since 2005, internal ethnic strife and perceived external economic threats have prompted a more aggressive USR leadership to reinforce its military forces.

These potential threats have pressured the U.S. Congress, around 2005, to enact an 18-month National Public Service (NPS) program that includes all agencies of the federal government and provides training for all citizen and noncitizen residents. For the military services, which had been all volunteer, NPS provides a constant source of trained troops.

SCENARIO CHARLIE: Neonationalism World.

The rise of nationalism worldwide in scenario CHARLIE has significantly suppressed U.S. political, economic, and military influence and has eliminated the presence of the U.S. military forces and most American industries overseas. CHARLIE is a highly competitive world where economic trade wars, embargoes, and restrictions abound.

The European Community (EC)* is experiencing an economic pinch of the nationalistic, worldwide fervor for nations to buy at home. Since around 2005 the EC has perceived no significant military threats to itself, its interests, or to the rest of Europe. With the exception of France and the United Kingdom, all other EC states have demilitarized. NATO became an empty shell nearly a decade ago. The EC and NATO, except for one or two states, essentially, would be unable even to support a peacekeeping force effectively, alone or within a United Nations force, or to quell ethnic conflicts in the EC or in neighboring states. By 2005, nearly all U.S. forces have left Europe except for a few over-manned caretaker contingents and the U.S. forces involved in training exercises in the Union of Sovereign Republics (USR) and the Union of Social Democratic Republics (USDR), confederacies of the former Soviet Union.

*As of November 1993, the EC has become the European Union (EU).

External threats to the United States or its interests are more of a challenge to U.S. economic trade and markets than they are threats to political ideology that would call for the use of military force. Largely for this reason, the U.S. leadership has provided substantial budgetary support to social and welfare programs and far less to defense. The military budget remains low despite U.S. national political and military leaders advocating a need for a stronger military. This has constrained U.S. security to a small, high-tech, elite military force and has reduced the Defense budget to its lowest level since the 1930s.

A significant portion of the Defense budget is invested into high-tech weaponry and research and development in general. The elite U.S. military forces are organized as the National Defense Forces (NDF). The NDF include all services and are fully capable of land, sea, air, and space operations.

The general public opinion of military service is high. However, partly because of population growth and partly because of military environmental infractions, local U.S. communities do not want military installations in their back yards. Since the military needs only to staff a small force, its source of physically, mentally, and morally fit volunteers for career service is provided through the Universal Public Service (UPS) program of 2003.

Since the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the continued U.S. economic support to Russia and Ukraine (especially), Georgia, and other republics of the former Soviet Union has given these new nations status in the new order of nations. Russia, circa 2005, formed a new confederacy with several other former republics and has become the leading republic of the Union of Sovereign Republics (USR). Likewise, Ukraine has become the leading republic of the Union of Social Democratic Republics (USDR).

SCENARIO DELTA: Muted Multipolar World.

This scenario describes a productive economic world where U.S. political leadership favors social and welfare investments over those of defense. DELTA, however, is a scenario where U.S. local communities increasingly object to military activities at installations in or nearby their communities. The worldwide threat to the United States and its interests is generally perceived by the U.S. leadership to be about the same as it was in the mid to late 1990s, i.e., more of an economic threat than a military one and with a constant global demand for the United States to prove its global leadership.

Since the turn of the century and by 2020, the military threat emanating from the Union of Sovereign Republics (USR) has steadily grown. The USR is a new confederacy made up of several republics of the former Soviet Union, largely Russia, in about 2003. In 2020 the USR is under a coalition leadership that is an economically aggressive three-party system: democratic, communist, and socialist. The military threat is greater for the European Community (EC) and the other confederacies formed from the former Soviet Union in the first decade of the century than it is for the United States.

The EC, driven by its need for new global economic markets, by 2005 is gaining in economic growth while gradually improving its competitive position globally, especially in the Asian-Pacific Rim markets. U.S. international economic and political influence, during the same time, is being strengthened worldwide by most nations that are making a tradeoff of nationalism for economic growth and are encouraging U.S. trade and tourism.

The reduction of the U.S. military during the past several decades has decreased U.S. presence overseas and reduced the number of local military installations throughout the United States. About 2005, the President combined the Army, Navy, and Air Force into one joint service, primarily to reduce costs and redundancies. The President and the Congress believe that the single joint service will be more responsive to global crises than the services would be separately. The DELTA 2020 military force, organized as a single, Unified Defense Force (UDF), is a mix of generalists and specialists. The UDF has light (easily deployable) high-tech land, air, and sea components for rapid shock attack.

Since the turn of the century the Defense budgets and related programs have been increasingly austere in comparison to past funding of the military in the late 20th century. The national economic benefits of military assistance programs in the DELTA world, however, are mutually satisfying to host nations and to the United States. These arrangements, i.e., overseas assignments for active and reserve forces, although limited in number, along with other inducements support voluntary military enlistment as the only source of recruitment for the joint service in the DELTA scenario.

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