Fareed speaks with Ian Morris, author of War, What Is It Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots, about the future of conflict.
I think there's a number of reasons to think that the coming generation or so might be the most dangerous in the history of the world, that we might be entering a period as unstable as the run-up to the First World War...
Wait a minute, you just burst my optimistic bubble.
This is the bad bit, armed with weapons even worse than the Cold War, so if there is reason to worry very, very much. But on the other hand…
Well, wait. That's not what's changed. We've had these weapons for a while.
We have, yes.
So what makes this period we're entering so dangerous?
Well, I would say that what makes it so dangerous is that if current trends continue, it looks like the big force that I would say has made the world so secure in the last few decades has been the presence of the U.S. as a global cop. Able, I mean, not to rule the world or anything like that, but to deter other governments from doing violent actions, most of the time.
And I think we're now entering a period when it's just less obvious to other governments that the U.S. is in a position to perform that deterrent role. And that, I think, really raises the risks, you know, not of somebody deliberately saying let's start a nuclear war. I think that's just deeply unlikely. But of things perhaps spiraling out of control.
But I remain optimistic that's not going to happen.