Not to jinx anything, but massive wars between world powers are really going out of style. "These prototypical wars have become increasingly rare, and the world hasn’t seen one since the three-week invasion of Iraq in 2003," argue Joshua S. Goldstein and Steven Pinker in the New York Times. Their benchmark for a "war": 1,000 military and civilian deaths in a year of fighting between national armies.
"Today’s civil wars are closer to organized crime than traditional war" in places like Colombia or the Congo. True, "countries remain armed and hostile, so war is hardly impossible"—but why do it? Nations once reaped spoils and gained land from conquest, but that's harder with today's stricter international community. "War also declines as prosperity and trade rise," write Goldstein and Pinker. "Historically, wealth came from land and conquest was profitable. Today, wealth comes from trade, and war only hurts." (Read more army stories.)