I think I’m getting a couple of predictions right. One is that the legacy airlines will get out of the coach class business. A recent article in the Wall St. Journal pointed out that as airlines shrink not only the size of seats in coach but also how many of them they install, their profits go up. So just draw the obvious conclusion. (My last post on this phenomenon is here.)
Another is that modern warfare will be privatized. This argument, which I first made in my 2005 bestseller, Neither Shall the Sword, suggested that state armies are great for fighting other state armies but not so good at the everything else called “fourth generation warfare.” Because the only state armies that the United States is going to fight are very weak — think Iraq, Grenada, and so on — we can shrink our national military forces but we still need something else to fill the gap, and I argued that the best we can do is use market forces to fill this gap for us.
Lo and behold, as we say in the prediction business, it has come to pass. As former US Army paratrooper and later mercenary Sean McFate reports in an article in yesterday’s New York Times, “In Iraq half of the personnel in war zones were contracted, and in Afghanistan it was closer to 70 percent. America may fight future wars mainly with contractors.” So we need to get thinking about how best to manage this process to serve the national interest. McFate and I came to the same conclusion: “Multibillion dollar industries don’t just evaporate, and outlawing private security forces won’t work. Relying on the market is the best way to avoid a return to the medieval chaos of armies for hire.”
In other words, except for a small public component to operate our nuclear deterrent force, and perform a few other missions, the government should run the league but not field a team (as I wrote back in 2005 — and “bestseller” should be considered in its relative sense.)