“This post-post-cold-war era will be defined by three new features — if things continue as they are. First is a nuclear Asia, triggered by North Korea’s flaunting of its nuclear weapons. How long will Japan, Taiwan and South Korea remain nonnuclear with Kim Jong-il brandishing his bomb? Second is a nuclear Middle East. Iran is almost certain to follow North Korea’s lead, and once the Shiite Persians in Iran have the bomb, how long will it be before the Sunni Arabs in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, even Syria have one too? Third is a disintegrating Iraq in the heart of the Arab world, with its destabilizing impact on oil prices and terrorism.”
Not that the North Korean nuclear program is insignificant. Friedman is actually onto something there. However, he then goes on to predict a proliferation cascade that will envelope six or seven more states. Twenty Friedman units later, exactly zero of those states have produced a nuclear weapon.
Friedman, Thomas L. 2006. “The Bus Is Waiting.” The New York Times. October 11: A27.