This paper, published here for the first time, represents a continuation of a line of inquiry I had pursued in three articles I published in 2004, namely "Societal Complexity and Diminishing Returns in Security" (International Security, Summer 2004), "National Mobilization: An Option in Future Conflicts?" (Parameters, Autumn 2004), and "Feeling the Pinch: Societal Slack and Space Development" (Astropolitics, July-September 2004).
I opted not to pursue the publication of this paper through the usual channels for several reasons. One was that it was essentially a rewrite of the argument I had earlier advanced, with its main merit greater polish and more thorough research rather than a really fundamental development of the earlier thesis (though I do consider some new implications of that data in this essay). Another was my devotion of increasing attention to the issue of energy security, where I have concentrated my research and writing for academic publication since that time.
Prior to publishing this paper on this blog, however, I provided it with a thorough update, so that the statistics are current, and some more recent scholarship is referenced in the text.
-Nader Elhefnawy, November 2008