Population decline is the elephant in the world’s living room. As a matter of arithmetic, we know that the social life of most developed countries will break down within two generations. If present fertility rates hold, the number of Germans will fall by 98 percent over the next two centuries. No pension and health care system can support such an inverted population pyramid.
Nor is the problem limited to the industrial nations. Fertility is falling at even faster rates — indeed, at rates never before registered anywhere — in the Muslim world. For the first time in history, the birth rate of the whole developed world is well below replacement, and a significant part of it has passed the demographic point of no return. But Islamic society is even more fragile. By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe. The Islamic world will have the same proportion of dependent elderly as the industrial countries. A time bomb that cannot be defused is ticking in the Muslim world. Imminent population collapse makes radical Islam more dangerous as nations confronting their own mortality may chose to go down in a blaze of glory.
In the past, nations that foresaw their own demise fell to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Plague, Famine, and Death. In today’s more civilized world there is a Fifth Horseman: Loss of Faith. When faith goes, fertility vanishes, too. We need to study theopolitics — the powerful impact of religious beliefs and aspirations on world events. Even we exceptional Americans must come to grips with the collapse of faith and fertility, especially in the rapidly and dangerously declining Muslim nations, in order to prevail in a world in which tragic outcomes are more common than happy endings.