INTELLECTUALS have a new game to play. It could be called "Construct a New World Order."Nowadays almost anything goes in this sport. If the Berlin Wall can tumble, the Soviet Empire collapse, and former communist nations embrace capitalism, then the academics, the think tankers, the prestigious consultants surely have great freedom to speculate on where the world is heading. For example, a former chief of staff for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Jeffrey Bergner, has written a book titled, "The New World Order: Germany, Japan, and the United States in the 21st Century" (St. Martin's Press). He argues that the US, Germany, and Japan will be the three preeminent nations in the world by the year 2000. That certainly seems a safe bet, considering the crumbling of the Soviet Union economically and politically. Another book from the same publisher comes out next month Crystal Globe: The Haves and the Have-Nots of the New World Order." Its authors, Marvin Cetron and Owen Davies, predict the world by 2000 will be divided into four primary regional trading and political blocs. These are the European Community (EC), the Pacific Rim alliance, the American free-trade zone, and the "Have Nots mostly developing countries. More dubious are their predictions that Quebec will successfully secede from Canada and that Washington, D.C., will supplant New York City as the world financial capital. A third St. Martin's book, The Coming War With Japan, by George Friedman and Meredith LeBard, offers such a bold geopolitical-economic romp that it's hard to know whether the authors are dead serious or just playing games. They assert that war between the US and Japan is probable. "The coming war with Japan will not arise out of wickedness or mean-spiritedness," they write. "It will not arise because of a lack of mutual understanding. It will not arise because Japan and America are similar or different cultures. It will arise because both are reasonable nations living in a dangerous world. Each wants what the other cannot give." Simplifying their argument, the war will stem from a clash between the US desire to dominate the Pacific and protect its Western shores, and from Japan's need to find a market for its goods in Asia and a reliable supply of raw materials. Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific, the authors recall, followed a successful Allied effort to cut Japan off from its sources of oil and other raw materials. They predict that after 1992 in this post-cold-war era, EC actions to protect Eastern Europe will set o ff a series of trade wars between the EC and the US and Japan. In reaction, the US itself will become more protectionist and exclude Japanese goods. Japanese goods will be pushed out of the developing trading blocs in both the Americas and Europe. Since Japanese companies, highly leveraged with debt, need growth to survive, they will push their exports and investments into the Asian market. Japan will then develop its armed forces to protect its interests in the west Pacific and Indian Ocean. This book is so full of geopolitical zingers that it is sometimes entertaining reading. But many of their statements, are at best, questionable. For example: "From World War I onward, the US manipulated the European balance of power in order that no nation might impose a peace." Wow! Or: "Chaos suits US interests perfectly. The US does not actually care what happens in the eastern hemisphere, as long as it does not spill into the oceans." Zowee! Or: "Over the past century, the US has pursued a consistent policy of dividing and disrupting Latin American governments in order to keep them preoccupied and unable to threaten the US." Pow! Of course, the US like all nations does guard its national interests. Its behavior often has not been as idealistic as many Americans would like to believe. Nonetheless, world affairs are not as deterministic or as Machiavellian as the authors maintain. In fact, modern communications and the rapid internationalization of commerce have to some degree outdated old-fashioned geopolitics. Though wars and lesser clashes between nations continue, the real unity of mankind and the shrinking of the globe have be come more apparent.