Globalization and technological change are raising widespread expectations that increased international cooperation will help manage many transnational problems that states can no longer manage on their own. Efforts to realize such expectations will increase, but concerns about national interests as well as the costs and risks involved in some types of international activism will limit success.
Mechanisms of international cooperation—intended to facilitate bargaining, elucidate common interests and resolve differences among states—have increased rapidly in recent decades.
* International treaties registered with the United Nations more than tripled between 1970 and 1997. In addition, there are growing numbers of agreements on standards and practices initiated by self-selected private networks.
* The number of international institutions increased by two-thirds from 1985 until 1999, while at the same time becoming more complex, more interrelated with often overlapping areas of responsibility, and more closely linked to transnational networks and private groups.
International cooperation will continue to increase through 2015, particularly when large economic stakes have mobilized the for-profit sector, and/or when there is intense interest from nonprofit groups and networks.
Most high-income democratic states will participate in multiple international institutions and seek cooperation on a wide range of issues to protect their interests and to promote their influence. Members of the European Union will tackle the most ambitious agenda, including significant political and security cooperation.
Strongly nationalistic and/or autocratic states will play selective roles in inter-governmental organizations: working within them to protect and project their interests, while working against initiatives that they view as threatening to their domestic power structures and national sovereignty. They will also work against those international institutions viewed as creatures of the established great powers and thus rigged against them—such as the IMF and the WTO—as well as those that cede a major role to nonstate actors.
Low-income developing countries will participate actively in international organizations and arrangements to assert their sovereignty, garner resources for social and economic development, and gain support for the incumbent government. The most unstable of these states will participate in international organizations and arrangements primarily to maintain international recognition for the regime.
Agenda for International Cooperation
Cooperation is likely to be effective in such areas as:
* Monitoring international financial flows and financial safehavens.
* Law enforcement against corruption, and against trafficking in narcotics and women and children.
* Monitoring meteorological data and warning of extreme weather events.
* Selected environmental issues, such as reducing substances that deplete the ozone layer or conserving high-seas fisheries.
* Developing vaccines or medicines against major infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS or malaria and surveillance of infectious disease outbreaks.
* Humanitarian assistance for refugees and for victims of famines, natural disasters, and internal conflicts where relief organizations can gain access.
* Efforts by international and regional organizations to resolve some internal and interstate conflicts, particularly in Africa.
Cooperation is likely to be contentious and with mixed results in such areas as:
* Conditions under which Intellectual Property Rights are protected.
* Reform and strengthening of international financial institutions, particularly the Bretton Woods institutions.
* Expansion of the UN Security Council.
* Adherence by major states to an International Criminal Court with universal, comprehensive jurisdiction.
* Control of greenhouse gas emissions to reduce global warming, carrying out the purposes of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.
* Acceptance of genetically-modified organisms to improve nutrition and health in poor regions.
* Establishing peacekeeping forces and standby military forces under the authority of the UN Security Council or most regional organizations, with the possible exception of the EU.
* Military action by forces authorized by the United Nations to correct abuses of human rights within states, pursuant to an asserted principle of humanitarian intervention or an expanded right of secession. Although "coalitions of the willing" will undertake such operations from time to time, a significant number of states will continue to view such interventions as illegitimate interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
* Proposed new rights to enjoy or appropriate elements of the "global commons," such as a right to "open borders" for people from lower-income countries.
Through 2015, internal conflicts will pose the most frequent threat to stability around the world. Interstate wars, though less frequent, will grow in lethality due to the availability of more destructive technologies. The international community will have to deal with the military, political, and economic dimensions of the rise of China and India and the continued decline of Russia.
Many internal conflicts, particularly those arising from communal disputes, will continue to be vicious, long-lasting and difficult to terminate—leaving bitter legacies in their wake.
* They frequently will spawn internal displacements, refugee flows, humanitarian emergencies, and other regionally destabilizing dislocations.
* If left to fester, internal conflicts will trigger spillover into inter-state conflicts as neighboring states move to exploit opportunities for gain or to limit the possibilities of damage to their national interests.
* Weak states will spawn recurrent internal conflicts, threatening the stability of a globalizing international system.
Internal conflicts stemming from state repression, religious and ethnic grievances, increasing migration pressures, and/or indigenous protest movements will occur most frequently in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and parts of south and southeast Asia, Central America and the Andean region.
The United Nations and several regional organizations will continue to be called upon to manage some internal conflicts because major states—stressed by domestic concerns, perceived risk of failure, lack of political will, or tight resources—will wish to minimize their direct involvement. When, however, some Western governments, international and regional organizations, and civil-society groups press for outside military intervention in certain internal conflicts, they will be opposed by such states as China, India, Russia and many developing countries that will tend to view interventions as dangerous precedents challenging state sovereignty.
States with poor governance; ethnic, cultural, or religious tensions; weak economies; and porous borders will be prime breeding grounds for terrorism. In such states, domestic groups will challenge the entrenched government, and transnational networks seeking safehavens.
Bombed US Embassy in Nairobi
At the same time, the trend away from state-supported political terrorism and toward more diverse, free-wheeling, transnational networks—enabled by information technology—will continue. Some of the states that actively sponsor terrorism or terrorist groups today may decrease or even cease their support by 2015 as a result of regime changes, rapprochement with neighbors, or the conclusion that terrorism has become counterproductive. But weak states also could drift toward cooperation with terrorists, creating defacto new state supporters.
* Between now and 2015 terrorist tactics will become increasingly sophisticated and designed to achieve mass casualties. We expect the trend toward greater lethality in terrorist attacks to continue.
Over the next 15 years, the international system will have to adjust to changing power relationships in key regions:
* China's potential. Estimates of China beyond five years are fraught with unknowables. Some projections indicate that Chinese power will rise because of the growth of its economic and military capabilities. Other projections indicate that the array of political, social, and economic pressures will increasingly challenge the stability and legitimacy of the regime. Most assessments today argue that China will seek to avoid conflict in the region to promote stable economic growth and to ensure internal stability. A strong China, others assert, would seek to adjust regional power arrangements to its advantage, risking conflict with neighbors and some powers external to the region. A weak China would increase prospects for criminality, narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, WMD proliferation, and widespread social instability.
* Russia's decline. By 2015, Russia will be challenged even more than today to adjust its expectations for world leadership to the dramatically reduced resources it will have to play that role. The quality of Russian governance is an open question as is whether the country will be able to make the transition in a manner that preserves rather than upsets regional stability.
* Japan's uncertainty. In the view of many experts, Japan will have difficulty maintaining its current position as the world's third largest economy by 2015. Tokyo has so far not shown a willingness to carry through the painful economic reforms necessary to slow the erosion of its leadership role in Asia. In the absence of an external shock, Japan is similarly unlikely to accelerate changes in security policy.
* India's prospects. India will strengthen its role as a regional power, but many uncertainties about the effects of global trends on its society cast doubt on how far India will go. India faces growing extremes between wealth and poverty, a mixed picture on natural resources, and problems with internal governance.
Current Ethnic Diversity States
The changing dynamics of state power will combine with other factors to affect the risk of conflict in various regions. Changing military capabilities will be prominent among the factors that determine the risk of war. In South Asia, for example, that risk will remain fairly high over the next 15 years. India and Pakistan are both prone to miscalculation. Both will continue to build up their nuclear and missile forces.
India most likely will expand the size of its nuclear-capable force. Pakistan's nuclear and missile forces also will continue to increase. Islamabad has publicly claimed that the number of nuclear weapons and missiles it deploys will be based on "minimum" deterrence and will be independent of the size of India's arsenal. A noticeable increase in the size of India's arsenal, however, would prompt Pakistan to further increase the size of its own arsenal.
Russia will be unable to maintain conventional forces that are both sizable and modern or to project significant military power with conventional means. The Russian military will increasingly rely on its shrinking strategic and theater nuclear arsenals to deter or, if deterrence fails, to counter large-scale conventional assaults on Russian territory.
* Moscow will maintain as many strategic missiles and associated nuclear warheads as it believes it can afford but well short of START I or II limitations. The total Russian force by 2015, including air launched cruise missiles, probably will be below 2,500 warheads.
As Russia struggles with the constraints on its ambitions, it will invest scarce resources in selected and secretive military technology programs, especially WMD, hoping to counter Western conventional and strategic superiority in areas such as ballistic missile defense.
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) will remain the world's largest military, but the majority of the force will not be fully modernized by 2015. China could close the technological gap with the West in one or more major weapons systems. China's capability for regional military operations is likely to improve significantly by 2015.
* China will be exploiting advanced weapons and production technologies acquired from abroad—Russia, Israel, Europe, Japan, and the United States—that will enable it to integrate naval and air capabilities against Taiwan and potential adversaries in the South China Sea.
* In the event of a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue, some of China's military objectives—such as protecting the sea lanes for Persian Gulf oil—could become more congruent with those of the United States. Nevertheless, as an emerging regional power, China would continue to expand its influence without regard to US interests.
* China by 2015 will have deployed tens to several tens of missiles with nuclear warheads targeted against the United States, mostly more survivable land- and sea-based mobile missiles. It also will have hundreds of shorter-range ballistic and cruise missiles for use in regional conflicts. Some of these shorter-range missiles will have nuclear warheads; most will be armed with conventional warheads.
China: How to Think About Its Growing Wealth and Power
China has been riding the crest of a significant wave of economic growth for two decades. Many experts assess that China can maintain a growth rate of 7 percent or more for many years. Such impressive rates provide a foundation for military potential, and some predict that China's rapid economic growth will lead to a significant increase in military capabilities. But the degree to which an even more powerful economy would translate into greater military power is uncertain.
The relationship between economic growth and China's overall power will derive from the priorities of leaders in Beijing—provided the regime remains stable. China's leaders have assessed for some years that comprehensive national power derives both from economic strength and from the military and diplomatic resources that a healthy, large economy makes possible. They apparently agree that, for the foreseeable future, such priorities as agricultural and national infrastructure modernization must take precedence over military development. In the absence of a strong national security challenge, this view is unlikely to change even as new leaders emerge in Beijing. In a stable environment, two leadership transitions will occur in China between now and 2015. The evidence strongly suggests that the new leaders will be even more firmly committed to developing the economy as the foundation of national power and that resources for military capabilities will take a secondary role. Existing priorities and projected defense allocations could enable the PLA to emerge as the most powerful regional military force.
* Beyond resource issues, China faces daunting challenges in producing defense systems. Beijing has yet to demonstrate an assured capacity to translate increasingly sophisticated science and technology advances into first-rate military production. To achieve this, China must effect reforms in its State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), develop a capacity for advanced systems integration skills, and recruit and retain technologically sophisticated officers and enlisted personnel.
A decision to alter priorities to emphasize military development would require substantial change in the leadership. Internal instability or a rise in nationalism could produce such change but also probably would result in economic decline.
Japan has a small but modern military force, more able than any other in Asia to integrate large quantities of new weaponry. Japan's future military strength will reflect the state of its economy and the health of its security relationship with the United States. Tokyo will increasingly pursue greater autonomy in security matters and develop security enhancements, such as defense improvements and more active diplomacy, to supplement the US alliance.
A unified Korea with a significant US military presence may become a regional military power. For the next 10 to 15 years, however, knowledgeable observers suggest that the process of unification will consume South Korea'senergies and resources.
Absent unification, North Korea's WMD capabilities will continue to cloud regional stability. P'yongyang probably has one, possibly two, nuclear weapons. It has developed medium-range missiles for years and has tested a three-stage space launch vehicle.
P'yonyang may improve the accuracy, range, and payload capabilities of its Taepo Dong-2 ICBM, deploy variants, or develop more capable systems. North Korea could have a few to several Taepo Dong-2 type missiles deployed by 2005.
In the Middle East, the confluence of domestic economic pressures and regional rivalries is likely to further the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. By contrast, spending on conventional arms probably will remain stable or decline in most countries. Some governments may maintain large armed forces to absorb otherwise unemployable youths, but such armies will be less well trained and equipped. Rather than conventional war, the region is likely to experience more terrorism, insurgencies, and humanitarian emergencies arising from internal disparities or disputes over ethnic or religious identity.
* Iran sees its short- and medium-range missiles as deterrents, as force-multiplying weapons of war, primarily with conventional warheads, and as options for delivering biological, chemical, and eventually nuclear weapons. Iran could test an IRBM or land-attack cruise missile by 2004 and perhaps even an ICBM or space launch vehicle as early as 2001.
* Iraq's ability to obtain WMD will be influenced, in part, by the degree to which the UN Security Council can impede development or procurement over the next 15 years. Under some scenarios, Iraq could test an ICBM capable of delivering nuclear-sized payloads to the United States before 2015; foreign assistance would affect the capabilities of the missile and the time it became available. Iraq could also develop a nuclear weapon during this period.
Reacting to US Military Superiority
Experts agree that the United States, with its decisive edge in both information and weapons technology, will remain the dominant military power during the next 15 years. Further bolstering the strong position of the United States are its unparalleled economic power, its university system, and its investment in research and development—half of the total spent annually by the advanced industrial world. Many potential adversaries, as reflected in doctrinal writings and statements, see US military concepts, together with technology, as giving the United States the ability to expand its lead in conventional warfighting capabilities.
This perception among present and potential adversaries will continue to generate the pursuit of asymmetric capabilities against US forces and interests abroad as well as the territory of the United States. US opponents—state and such nonstate actors as drug lords, terrorists, and foreign insurgents—will not want to engage the US military on its terms. They will choose instead political and military strategies designed to dissuade the United States from using force, or, if the United States does use force, to exhaust American will, circumvent or minimize US strengths, and exploit perceived US weaknesses. Asymmetric challenges can arise across the spectrum of conflict that will confront US forces in a theater of operations or on US soil.
Central Asia: Regional Hot Spot?
The interests of Russia, China, and India—as well as of Iran and Turkey—will intersect in Central Asia; the states of that region will attempt to balance those powers as well as keep the United States and the West engaged to prevent their domination by an outside power. The greatest danger to the region, however, will not be a conflict between states, which is unlikely, but the corrosive impact of communal conflicts and politicial insurgencies, possibly abetted by outside actors and financed at least in part by narcotraffickers.
It is also generally recognized that the United States and other developed countries will continue to possess the political, economic, military, and technological advantages—including through National Missile and Theater Missile Defense systems—to reduce the gains of adversaries from lateral or "side-wise" technological improvements to their capabilities.
Threats to Critical Infrastructure. Some potential adversaries will seek ways to threaten the US homeland. The US national infrastructure—communications, transportation, financial transactions, energy networks—is vulnerable to disruption by physical and electronic attack because of its interdependent nature and by cyber attacks because of their dependence on computer networks. Foreign governments and groups will seek to exploit such vulnerabilities using conventional munitions, information operations, and even WMD. Over time, such attacks increasingly are likely to be delivered by computer networks rather than by conventional munitions, as the affinity for cyber attacks and the skill of US adversaries in employing them evolve. Cyber attacks will provide both state and nonstate adversaries new options for action against the United States beyond mere words but short of physical attack—strategic options that include selection of either nonlethal or lethal damage and the prospect of anonymity.
Information Operations. In addition to threatening the US national infrastructure, adversaries will seek to attack US military capabilities through electronic warfare, psychological operations, denial and deception, and the use of new technologies such as directed energy weapons or electromagnetic pulse weapons. The primary purpose would be to deny US forces information superiority, to prevent US weapons from working, and to undermine US domestic support for US actions. Adversaries also are likely to use cyber attacks to complicate US power projection in an era of decreasing permanent US military presence abroad by seeking to disrupt military networks during deployment operations—when they are most stressed. Many countries have programs to develop such technologies; few have the foresight or capability to fully integrate these various tools into a comprehensive attack. But they could develop such capabilities over the next decade and beyond.
Terrorism. Much of the terrorism noted earlier will be directed at the United States and its overseas interests. Most anti-US terrorism will be based on perceived ethnic, religious or cultural grievances. Terrorist groups will continue to find ways to attack US military and diplomatic facilities abroad. Such attacks are likely to expand increasingly to include US companies and American citizens. Middle East and Southwest Asian-based terrorists are the most likely to threaten the United States.
Weapons of Mass Destruction. WMD programs reflect the motivations and intentions of the governments that produce them and, therefore, can be altered by the change of a regime or by a regime's change of view. Linear projections of WMD are intended to assess what the picture will look like if changes in motivations and intentions do not occur.
Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, particularly if armed with WMD, already pose a significant threat overseas to US interests, military forces, and allies. By 2015, the United States, barring major political changes in these countries, will face ICBM threats from North Korea, probably from Iran, and possibly from Iraq, in addition to long-standing threats from Russia and China.
* Weapons development programs, in many cases fueled by foreign assistance, have led to new capabilities—as illustrated by Iran's Shahab-3 launches in 1998 and 2000 and North Korea's Taepo Dong-1 space launch attempt in August 1998. In addition, some countries that have been traditional recipients of missile technologies have become exporters.
* Sales of ICBMs or space launch vehicles, which have inherent ICBM capabilities, could further increase the number of countries that will be able to threaten the United States with a missile strike.
The probability that a missile armed with WMD would be used against US forces or interests is higher today than during most of the Cold War and will continue to grow. The emerging missile threats will be mounted by countries possessing considerably fewer missiles with far less accuracy, yield, survivability, reliability, and range-payload capability than the strategic forces of the Soviet Union. North Korea's space launch attempt in 1998 demonstrated that P'yongyang is seeking a long-range missile capability that could be used against US forces and interests abroad and against US territory itself. Moreover, many of the countries developing longer-range missiles assess that the mere threat of their use would complicate US crisis decisionmaking and potentially would deter Washington from pursuing certain objectives.
Other means to deliver WMD against the United States will emerge, some cheaper and more reliable and accurate than early-generation ICBMs. The likelihood of an attack by these means is greater than that of a WMD attack with an ICBM. The goal of the adversary would be to move the weapon within striking distance by using short- and medium-range missiles deployed on surface ships or covert missions using military special operations forces or state intelligence services. Non-missile delivery means, however, do not provide the same prestige, deterrence, and coercive diplomacy associated with ICBMs.
WMD Proliferation and the Potential for Unconventional Warfare and Escalation
The risks of escalation inherent in direct armed conflict will be magnified by the availability of WMD; consequently, proliferation will tend to spur a reversion to prolonged, lower-level conflict by other means: intimidation, subversion, terrorism, proxies, and guerrilla operations. This trend already is evident between Israel and some of its neighbors and between India and Pakistan. In the event of war, urban fighting will be typical and consequently, civilian casualties will be high relative to those among combatants. Technology will count for less, and large, youthful, and motivated populations for more. Exploitation of communal divisions within an adversary's civil populations will be seen as a key to winning such conflicts—increasing their bitterness and thereby prolonging them.
Chemical and biological threats to the United States will become more widespread; such capabilities are easier to develop, hide, and deploy than nuclear weapons. Some terrorists or insurgents will attempt to use such weapons against US interests—against the United States itself, its forces or facilities overseas, or its allies. Moreover, the United States would be affected by the use of such weapons anywhere in the world because Washington would be called on to help contain the damage and to provide scientific expertise and economic assistance to deal with the effects. Such weapons could be delivered through a variety of means, including missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, or covertly via land, air, and sea.
Trends in Global Defense Spending and Armaments
Defense-related technologies will advance rapidly over the next 15 years—particularly precision weapons, information systems and communications. The development and integrated application of these technologies will occur mostly in the advanced countries, particularly the United States. Given the high costs and complexity of technical and operational integration, few nations will assign high priority to the indigenous development of such military technology.
* Non-US global defense spending has dropped some 50 percent since the late 1980s. "Military modernization accounts," particularly procurement, have been hit hard.
* The global arms market has decreased by more than 50 percent during the same period.
* Indications are that global defense spending may be recovering from mid-1990s lows; part of East Asia, for example, could experience rises in defense spending over the next decade, but, overall, long-term spending patterns are uncertain.
Over the past decade, a slow but persistent transformation has occurred in the arms procurement strategies of states. Many states are attempting to diversify sources of arms for reasons that vary from fears of arms embargoes, to declining defense budgets, or to a desire to acquire limited numbers of cutting-edge technologies. Their efforts include developing a mix of indigenous production; codeveloping, coproducing, or licensing production; purchasing entire weapon systems; or leasing capabilities. At the same time, many arms-producing states, confronted with declining domestic arms needs but determined to maintain defense industries, are commercializing defense production and aggressively expanding arms exports.
Together, the above factors suggest:
Technology diffusion to those few states with a motivation to arm and the economic resources to do so will accelerate as weapons and militarily relevant technologies are moved rapidly and routinely across national borders in response to increasingly commercial rather than security calculations. For such militarily related technologies as the Global Positioning System, satellite imagery, and communications, technological superiority will be difficult to maintain for very long. In an environment of broad technological diffusion, nonmaterial elements of military power—strategy, doctrine, and training—will increase in importance over the next 15 years in deciding combat outcomes.
Export regimes and sanctions will be difficult to manage and less effective in controlling arms and weapons technology transfers. The resultant proliferation of WMD and long-range delivery systems would be destabilizing and increase the risk of miscalculation and conflict that produces high casualties.
Advantages will go to states that have a strong commercial technology sector and develop effective ways to link these capabilities to their national defense industrial base. States able to optimize private and public sector linkages could achieve significant advancements in weapons systems.
The twin developments outlined above—constrained defense spending worldwide combined with increasing military technological potential—preclude accurate forecasts of which technologies, in what quantity and form, will be incorporated in the military systems of future adversaries. In many cases, the question will not be which technologies provide the greatest military potential but which will receive the political backing and resources to reach the procurement and fielding stage. Moreover, civilian technology development already is driving military technology development in many countries.
Theater-range ballistic and cruise missile proliferation will continue. Most proliferation will involve systems a generation or two behind state of the art, but they will be substantially new capabilities for the states that acquire them. Such missiles will be capable of delivering WMD or conventional payloads inter-regionally against fixed targets. Major air and sea ports, logistics bases and facilities, troop concentrations, and fixed communications nodes increasingly will be at risk.
* Land-attack cruise missiles probably will be more accurate than ballistic missiles.
Access to Space. US competitors and adversaries realize the degree to which access to space is critical to US military power, and by 2015 they will have made strides in countering US space dominance. International commercialization of space will give states and nonstate adversaries access rivaling today's major space powers in such areas as high-resolution reconnaissance and weather prediction, global encrypted communications, and precise navigation. When combined, such services will provide adversaries who are aware of US and allied force deployments the capability for precise targeting and global coordination of operations. Moreover, many adversaries will have developed capabilities to degrade US space assets—in particular, with attacks against ground facilities, electronic warfare, and denial and deception. By 2015, several countries will have such counterspace technologies as improved space-object tracking, signal jamming, and directed-energy weapons such as low-power lasers.