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2. Lawlessness and Disorder: An Emerging Paradigm for the 21st Century

The 20th century will probably go down in history as the exemplar of geopolitical interstate conflict with two World Wars centered in Europe followed by over four decades of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union. The 21st century, in contrast, could well become a period of lawlessness and disorder—a century in which states are in long-term decline; new violent actors challenge states and one another; resources such as food, water, and energy become a central focus of violent competition and of large illicit markets; demographic and environmental trends pose challenges to sustainability, security, and stability; and the severity of problems is significantly increased by the interconnections and often perverse interactions among them, or what Thomas Homer-Dixon termed “negative synergies.”

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