Chapter 3: The State of the American Dis-Union
After the 2015 oil crash, the United States found itself an embattled nation from within and without. Struggling against the rising economic power of China, internal pressures have grown - dissent against Draconian Federal regulations, widening rich-poor diversions, extremism and widespread discontent are weakening a nation that was once a great superpower.
Radical choices by the government (suspension of posse comitatus, increased powers for FEMA and the NSA, the opening of oil reserves) have served to bring order, but it may be too late to regain stability. Many states - Texas, Utah, California - are considering secession, while cities like Seattle, Dallas and Chicago have become fortress-states in an attempt to maintain normalcy in a dangerous environment.
America struggles to hold itself together against the building pressure of balkanization, but it is a fragmenting nation on a downward spiral.
Chapter 4: The Indian Sink
India has attempted to replicate some of the achievements of the People's Republic of China with limited success; the outsourcing boom of the early 2000's created a surge in the country's knowledge base, but the fast-foward nature of the new technology-based businesses caused divisions in the populace, creating a new form of stratification in this caste-bound society - between the technologically proficient and those who rejected the advance of these new sciences. However, this bounty of innovation was short-lived.
Now as the 2020's move toward their conclusion, the "boomtown" years are apparently over, and much of the Indian subcontinent teeters on the brink of backsliding toward an economic meltdown, mirroring the effects on the Japanese bubble economy of the late 20th century; and the situation has been made far worse by the increase in new viral strains plaguing the common populace.
Chapter 5: The European Quagmire
With America's attentions increasingly focused on internal problems, it's withdrawal from NATO and the subsequent dissolution of that military-political entity had left Europe without its primary overseas ally and the vacuum that the European Union has struggled to fill.
The creation of a replacement for NATO, the European Common Defense Alliance (ECDA), while far-reaching, remains mired in bureaucratic red tape. Ranged against the increasingly aggressive Russian Federation, the European Union is split between the hawks and the doves who wish to either defang or appease the reawakening Bear.
While trying hard to maintain an outward sense of accord, lines of dissent and old rivalries slimmer just below the surface across mainland Europe, threatening to make themselves apparent. Tensions over economic factors and the tissue-thin border controls between nations are stressing the bonds between the EU nations toward breaking point.
Chapter 6: The Middle East - A Crucible of Fire
This Troubled region has undergone great upheavals in the last decade-and-a-half, with the formation of the United Arab Front and the progression toward a single Islamic super-state. The invasion of Israel in the early 2020's marked the final stage in the UAF's plans to impose control over the region. Despite the 2015 oil crash, the UAF's solidarity enabled member states to recover from the subsequent loss of economic power.
The Six Month War had lasting effects, and years later dispossessed Israeli nationals continue to strike in ongoing guerilla - or as the UAF call them, terrorist - attacks. Without Saudi oil to strengthen them, the UAF are not the player on the world stage they purport to be, but with the growing number of Islamic states in South East Asia, their reach may be greater than expected.
Chapter 7: Facing the Dragon
China casts a long shadow; since the 2000s, the Chinese Bloc has seen a steady climb toward superpower status, supplanting the USA as the world's economic engine and most sophisticated military force.
Marked growth in many areas of industry have made the People's Republic a major player in many fields, notably in the emerging technology of human augmentation. Without the regulations imposed on human trials by other nations, the PRC have been fast-tracking their augmentation research; many fear that China's actions may grant them a monopoly and thus strengthen their position still further.
However, despite technological advances, China's attitudes toward human rights and the environment have not progressed, and rumors of atrocities against both people and the planet are rife; but confirmation of these statements is difficult to obtain, given the PRC's iron grip on their nation's media.