Jul 12 2008
In addition to the expansive joy of Great Explorations from Lewis & Clark to Apollo, and stunning Macro-Engineering Projects (MEPs) like the Panama Canal, the last 200 years also teach us one sobering fact: Each Maslow Window is also associated with a tragic, major war (e.g. W. W. I).
And sadly, the 2020s are unlikely to be an exception.
For example, the early 20th Century Maslow Window (1903-1913) was one of the most ebullient, productive decades in history. I highly recommend Jim Rasenberger’s new book America 1908; it was an amazing time “…of boundless imagination — everything was bigger, better, faster, and greater than ever before.” President Teddy Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet on a show tour around the globe, as a precursor to his leadership of the greatest MEP of the last 200 years (until Apollo): the Panama Canal. Admiral Robert Peary and many others began their long, arduous (in some cases, deadly), globally enthralling treks to both the north and south poles. Some 50 years later, reaching the north pole was still considered to be one of the top 100 historical events of all time. Not even to mention the technological ebullience of the Wright Brothers flight and the New York to Paris automobile race!
The zeitgeist of the Polar Maslow Window was perhaps best expressed by a couple of 1960s historians, “To a visitor from Mars it must have appeared that the Western world in 1914 was on the brink of Utopia,” (see Cordell, 1996). Tragically, it all came screeching to a halt with World War I.
The Apollo Maslow Window (1959-1969) was even more ebullient. According to historian Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, “For the first time in human history, a majority of people in one of the largest countries on earth could have all of their needs and most of their desires met on demand.” However, the heating up of the Vietnam War in 1968 hurt the spirit of the Peace Corps and terminated the Apollo Moon program; the last three planned Moon landings were canceled by President Nixon.
So what does the future hold? The Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) of the University of Maryland has published Peace and Conflict 2008, which shows global trends in wars from 1946 to 2005 (by J. Joseph Hewitt). 98% of violent conflicts since 1946 show a flat trend at about 80,000 annual deaths. However, the other 2% – represented by 5 especially lethal wars (including Korea and Vietnam) – show an average decline of 3600 annual fatalities per year since 1946, with an mean of one major conflict every 12 years.
The bottom line is that roughly once-per-decade major wars have continued since 1946 but have a downward trend in battle deaths. And during the last 200 years, a major war always occurs at the end or shortly after a Maslow Window (between 2020-2025+). The possibility of a major war is the biggest threat to the peace and security of the world in the 2020s and has the potential to force postponement of Moon and Mars explorations and MEPs to sometime after 2071, the opening of the next Maslow WIndow.