ABSTRACT

Heretofore in this assessment of the future of international politics, the discussion devoted to actors below the great power level has been very limited, as the sheer number of political entities active in Eastern Eurasia is so large that addressing even a substantial percentage of them would overwhelm the analysis. However, in order to assess the future of the great power system, one must consider the broad events shaping the international political environment, and one of the most important features of today’s political landscape is the ongoing struggle against Islamist extremism that Washington refers to as the Global War on Terrorism or, more recently, the Long War.133 Beyond its obvious significance for the near-and medium-term future, the GWOT also foreshadows one of the more difficult challenges that the United States and other great powers likely will face in the future: the continuing development of a variety of military and civilian technologies and the dispersal of those technologies will make it increasingly likely that sub-state actors will be able to both attract followers and inflict grave damage even on militarily very powerful countries.