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Special Report: Seeking a New World : An Age of Challenge and Mystery

December 18, 1990|Robin Wright and Doyle McManus | Times Staff Writers

The ending of the Cold War has plunged the globe into a period of rapid and pervasive change. As old tyrannies and antagonisms dissolve, new freedoms and opportunities blossom. Yet there is a paradox. New tensions are rising, seemingly rushing to fill a vacuum.

Last week's special edition of World Report examined two challenges to the post-Cold War world: how the ability to wield economic power, through control of technology and markets, will determine who leads the industrialized world; and how democracy, even in its hour of triumph, faces untold new pressures around the globe.

This week, World Report explores the powerful forces that are now challenging the dominant cultural and sociopolitical trends of the 20th Century: explosive ethnic and national movements that contest some of the most fundamental premises of modern statehood; vibrant religious movements that deny the "truths" of the secular age; and the spread of weaponry that alters the very concept of "superpower."

It looks to the death of the world's last empires, and the birth of a post-modern age of challenge and mystery.

Shifting Realities in Global Power War: What happens when ancient ethnic feuds go modern with chemical arms and other high-tech weaponry? Religion: Who determines God's will when fervent, well-armed men disagree? Society: What's the future of chaotic megacities in which squatters outnumber residents? Geopolitics: How do spheres of influence change when the Third World can suddenly target the First with long-range missiles? Peace: Can the world find unity when so many of its peoples want to divide?

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