The pattern of epochal wars and state formation, of peace congresses and international constitutions, has played out for five centuries to the end of this millennium. A new constitutional order – the market state – is about to emerge. But if the pattern of earlier eras is to be repeated, then we await a new, epochal war with state-shattering consequences. It is my conclusion that we can shape this war, even if we cannot avoid it. We can take decisions that will determine whether the next epochal war is either a general cataclysm or a never-ending, low intensity conflict. An apocalyptic war is in many respects easier to deter, and can be waged by few states, but it risks the annihilation of the developed world. An endless low-intensity conflict can be fought with asymmetrical means, that is, with weapons that defy retaliation or deterrence, and employ tactics like terrorism and cyber-attacks on the critical infrastructures of the developed states, while requiring expensive expeditionary forces of those states.
Whichever course of action is decided upon will be both constitutional and strategic in nature because these are the two faces of the modern State – the inner and the outer, the face the State turns towards its own citizens, and the face it turns towards the outside world of its competitors. Each State develops its own constitutional order (its inward facing profile) as well as its strategic paradigm (its outwardly turned silhouette), and these two forms are logically and topologically inseparable. A state threatened with cyber attacks on its interdependent infrastructures can protect itself by virtually abolishing privacy or by expensively decentralizing; either has profound constitutional consequences. A state that privatizes most of its functions will inevitably defend itself by employing its own people as mercenaries-with equally profound strategic consequences.