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Column: The road ahead?

2005 - A radiological "dirty bomb" is detonated in central Paris, killing 4,500 people immediately and forcing a long-term evacuation of much of the city. There is no claim of responsibility, but after concluding that Libyan-backed terrorists were behind the blast, the French government takes firm action. Under intense pressure from NATO allies, it chooses not to respond with a nuclear strike, but French forces invade Libya and topple the regime of Colonel Qaddafi.

2008 - After a decade of continuous violence in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as intermittent clashes on Israel's border with Syria, the UN Security Council mandates a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to be signed within two years. Reluctantly, and only after the United States threatens to cut off military aid, Israel begins high-level negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

2010 - The Republic of Palestine is proclaimed and immediately recognized by the U.S. government. Its constitution forbids the maintenance of offensive armed forces, and the first act of its legislature is to approve a defense treaty with Israel. Polls show that a vast majority in both countries supports the peace settlement.

2018 - Reunification talks between Taiwan and China end abruptly following a military-backed coup in Beijing. After Taiwan responds by unilaterally declaring independence, the Chinese navy launches missile strikes on the island's major cities. For the first time since 1945, the Japanese self-defense forces are deployed in a combat zone and, along with U.S. troops, engage the Chinese. A full-scale invasion of Taiwan is thwarted by allied forces, and China reluctantly withdraws after accepting a UN cease-fire proposal. Taiwan's independence is recognized by less than half of the world's countries, and it takes years to rebuild its shattered economy. After the war, a popular uprising against the Communist Party is suppressed by loyalist Chinese troops.

2026 - A referendum authorizes the establishment of the European Federation, the successor organization to the European Union. All 23 members of the EU endorse the proposal, which maintains their nominal independence but requires full compliance with decisions made by the federal authorities in Brussels. One-half of all national armed forces are put under the direct control of the central military command. Europe is declared a nuclear-free zone, and all U.S. forces are required to leave the continent within two years. As a gesture of good faith, Russia eliminates 90 percent of its strategic rocket arsenal but remains Europe's only nuclear state.

2030 - Cuba's petition to become the fifty-third state is narrowly approved by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president. The statehood plan, backed by Cuba's democratic government since 2021, includes a massive economic development program for the island. Cuba's per-capita income is the lowest of any state, but its tourism industry has flourished since the removal of all sanctions in 2009. The new state's accession to the union is the first time that a UN member voluntarily gave up sovereignty.

2038 - NATO's governing council decides to formally dissolve the organization as the United States, Canada and Russia sign a mutual defense treaty. Western European members of NATO had withdrawn from the alliance's command structure in 2035, and along with most former Soviet republics, had established the European Defense Forces. At the same time, Australia and New Zealand-which have long rejected U.S. policies in Asia-abrogate the ANZUS treaty, dating back to 1951. They instead establish close constitutional and economic ties with seven other democratic states in East Asia, forming the Pacific Alliance.

2041 - The bankrupt Communist government in North Korea, which had earlier developed a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching America's West Coast, issues an ultimatum to the United States and Japan, demanding annual payments of $250 billion. If the two countries do not comply within a year, North Korea vows missile strikes against Tokyo and Los Angeles. The EF officially proclaims its neutrality.

2042 - After urgent consultations with Russia, the United States rejects the ultimatum. Most of the North's missile attack is intercepted by a satellite-based defense system, but 2 million people are killed in Japan and California. Russia joins forces with the U.S. and Japan in launching a massive offensive against enemy forces. For the first time since 1945, the U.S. president orders the release of nuclear missiles in a retaliatory strike. The Russian navy blockades the North's ports, while three neutron bombs eliminate what remains of its nuclear arsenal. The war's final toll includes 6 million casualties, and much of Los Angeles County stays uninhabitable for decades.

2046 - The American Economic Community is established to rival the EF and the Pacific Alliance as the world's largest free trade zone. Including virtually all countries in the western hemisphere, it accounts for 40 percent of global production. Unlike the other two major multinational groupings, it does not involve political unification. The World Trade Organization is rendered useless as the world is divided into three rival trading blocs.

2052 - The Brussels-based parliament of the EF approves a continental constitution which recognizes the central government as the supreme source of power for all 30 states. National legislatures are abolished and are replaced with six regional assemblies. Russia and the U.S. both condemn what they consider aggressive moves on the part of the unified European military.

2053 - With the inflation-adjusted price of oil higher than at any time in the past century, a major research study concludes that at the current rate of consumption, petroleum reserves will run out before 2100. In the face of looming shortages, the AEC and EF both decide to ban the production of automobiles and aircraft with the internal combustion engine, effective in five years. A special tax, equal to 1 percent of GDP and allocated to the development of cold fusion, is imposed on the few remaining oil companies.

Pavel Molchanov is a Trinity senior.

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