It is hard to believe today but for most of the 1990s

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Unformatted text preview: some of the most consequential issues created by the economic crisis may prove to be those that would ordinarily be considered matters of low policy. When production falls and unemployment rises in Russia, many of the Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, that have been needed to fuel the boom are usually sent home. For countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which have provided most of this enormous transient labor force (some estimate more than one million workers in Moscow alone), this will be a huge jolt. Quickly, Russia will go from being an important safety valve for socioeconomic discontent to a source of it. In the short term, Russia's neighbors will doubtless see this reflux of their own citizens as a reason to maintain good relations with Moscow, in hopes of winning coordinated management of a potentially dangerous problem. 167 Last printed 9/4/2009 7:00:00 PM Oil DDW 2012 1 Iranian missile sales lead to nuclear war Ferguson 6 [Nial, professor of history at Harvard, “The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented,” Telegraph, 1/15/06, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3622324/The-origins-of-the-Great-War-of-2007and-how-it-could-have-been-prevented.html] With every passing year after the turn of the century, the instability of the Gulf region grew. By the beginning of 2006, nearly all the combustible ingredients for a conflict - far bigger in its scale and scope than the wars of 1991 or 2003 - were in place. The first underlying cause of the war was the increase in the region's relative importance as a source of petroleum. On the one hand, the rest of the world's oil reserves were being rapidly exhausted. On the other, the breakneck growth of the Asian economies had caused a huge surge in global demand for energy. It is hard to believe today, but for most of the 1990s the price of oil had averaged less than $20 a barrel. A second precondition of war was demographic. While European fertility had fallen below the natural replacement rate in the 1970s, the decline in the Islamic world had been much slower. By the late 1990s the fertility rate in the eight Muslim countries to the south and east of the European Union was two and half times higher than the European figure. This tendency was especially pronounced in Iran, where the social conservatism of the 1979 Revolution - which had lowered the age of marriage and prohibited contraception - combined with the high mortality of the Iran-Iraq War and the subsequent baby boom to produce, by the first decade of the new century, a quite extraordinary surplus of young men. More than two fifths of the population of Iran in 1995 had been aged 14 or younger. This was the generation that was ready to fight in 2007. This not only gave Islamic societies a youthful energy that contrasted markedly with the slothful senescence of Europe. It also signified a profound shift in the balance of world population. In 1950, there had three times as many people in Britain as in Iran. By 1995, the population of Iran had overtaken that of Britain and was forecast to be 50 per cent hig...
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