In late 1989 I spent some time thinking about what was then called the ``emerging new world order'', and began to rough out a think piece titled ``World War Four''. I scribbled an introduction in January of 1990, but since I'd already discussed the gist of the message verbally with just about everybody who was likely to read such a paper, I put it aside and never completed it.
The essence of ``World War Four'' was the argument that amidst all the optimism and triumph engendered by the collapse of communism--the end of World War Three (the Cold War, 1945-1990), we were in all likelihood at the threshold of World War Four (1990-????). World War Three, a relatively bloodless war which nonetheless consumed far more wealth than any of its predecessors, was about which economic and political system was appropriate for large industrialised nations. That's pretty much been settled now. World War Four was, I predicted, going to be centred on the essential definition of a nation and the appropriate size and scale of political entities. I went on to argue that 45 years of bipolar confrontation had simply put a lid on these issues, which have been at the heart of the overwhelming majority of all modern wars, and that we were probably entering into an era where borders were going to be redrawn all around the world.
Well, of course, if I'd finished the piece and managed to get it published anywhere, I'd probably be spending all my time on the talk shows as the Political Prophet of the Nineties, so it's just as well I didn't. But I stand by my 1990 predictions, including the one that there will be a serious secession movement by one or more states of the U.S. before the end of this decade.
So what does this have to do with the title of this paper? Well, nothing really other than the fact that I've put everything aside to finish this paper because I have the feeling that if I don't it's going to suffer the same awful fate as ``World War Four''--namely come true and be considered totally obvious before I get around to predicting it. I've been developing the ideas in this paper over the last 14 months--ever since the idea popped into my head during a conversation with Bill Gates--and as I've explored it and thought further it seems more and more compelling. I know for a fact that Gates is thinking in this direction as well, because I asked him and he said, ``Yes''. Until recently I didn't think, however, he had the whole idea put together as cleanly as I did. Recent events make me suspect he's way ahead of everybody.
As with ``World War Four'', I've discussed aspects of this with many of you. Because I've tended to focus on one aspect or another of the whole picture, and because my views have been evolving, in part due to your valuable comments, I'd urge you to read this document anyway to make sure you see how all the pieces fit together.
Editor: John Walker