- The debt crisis in the Western democracies
- Social change in China
- The changing Mideast political situation, as regards mosque and state
Other scenarios are possible. A Communist crackdown in China would disrupt China's economic development and China's role in world commerce, with results felt everywhere. Contrariwise, the Chinese people might finally get fed up enough with their Communist officials to throw the rascals out. Individual Chinese citizens do not have much political power, but there are a great many of them.
An Islamist hegemony in the Mideast would change many things, possibly including who is a favored customer for petroleum and who isn't. (It is quite possible we Americans would not be favored.) Increased Mideastern hostility toward the West could accelerate our debt problems by creating a further drag on our economies, with impacts on Asia's investments in the West and Asia's trade with the Western countries. Once again the Chinese situation is affected, with consequences worldwide, and of course within China itself...
And so on--make up your own scenarios. While I do not say any of the above will come to pass, none of them is impossible, and there are still more scenarios that cannot be ruled out. The rise in the West of either ultra-conservative or ultra-socialist policies could, in falling domino fashion, affect both Asia and the Mideast. For example, a new American isolationism--close the doors on the rest of the world--would affect matters everywhere.
The cultures and economies of the world are more closely linked than at any time previously. There are at present three areas of great uncertainty about future developments, a Western one, a Chinese one and a Muslim one. Interesting times, indeed.