Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Strategic Implications of Depopulation in the Middle East

David Goldman ("Spengler") has some further thoughts on the strategic implications of falling populations in the Middle-East and, in particular, Iran. Noting that Iran had one last bulge of military age men before its fertility rates crashed, he concludes:
The point of my 2006 studies in Iran’s demographics was not academic: I argued that a demographic cataclysm helped explained the apocalyptic mindset of the Iranian leadership, which felt that it had nothing to lose by betting everything on a Shi’ite resurgence under the umbrella of nuclear.

But it does not seem likely that the foreign policy establishment, once having noticed the demographic elephant in the parlor, will draw the obvious inference: a society that suddenly stops having children suffers from cultural despair. The same cultural despair that curtains off the future for families afflicts policymakers. Cultural pessimism is a great motivation for strategic adventures. A nation that fears that it may have no future may be willing to risk everything on the roll of a dice. Iran has one last big generation of military age men, the ones who were born in the early 1980s before the great weapons. Nothing but the use of force would stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, with dreadful consequences. With Iran on the verge of building a nuclear bomb, we have hit crunch-time. Will the foreign policy establishment connect the dots in time?

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