Intelligence Report “Global Trends 2025” Says Leadership Is Key For World To Meet Dangerous Future

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) this month released a report, “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World.”   This report looks at the next 17 years, and sees a potentially very dangerous world, “more fragmented and conflicted,” with huge population increases and dwindling resources.

The 120 page report (download pdf here)  concludes by saying, “Leadership Will Be Key:  As we indicated at the beginning of the study, human actions are likely to be the crucial determinant of the outcomes.  Historically, as we have pointed out, leaders and their ideas— positive and negative — were among the biggest game-changers during the last century.”

The NIC releases such a report every four years between Election Day and Inauguration Day.  Some of the Reports assessments are:

  • The whole international syste — as constructed following WWI — will be revolutionized. Not only will new players — Brazil, Russia, India and China — have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.
  • The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources — particularly energy, food, and water — raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.
  • The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East.

This report is 120 pages, and I’ve just started to read it.  Some highlights:

  • For the most part, China, India, and Russia are not following the Western liberal model for self- development but instead are using a different model, “state capitalism.”  State capitalism is a loose term used to describe a system of economic management that gives a prominent role to the state.  Other rising powers—South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—also used state capitalism to develop their economies.  However, the impact of Russia, and particularly China, following this path is potentially much greater owing to their size and approach to “democratization.”
  • Asia, Africa, and Latin America will account for virtually all population growth over the next 20 years; less than 3 percent of the growth will occur in the West.  Europe and Japan will continue to far outdistance the emerging powers of China and India in per capita wealth, but they will struggle to maintain robust growth rates because the size of their working-age populations will decrease.  The US will be a partial exception to the aging of populations in the developed world because it will experience higher birth rates and more immigration.
  • The World Bank estimates that demand for food will rise by 50 percent by 2030, as a result of growing world population, rising affluence, and the shift to Western dietary preferences by a larger middle class.  Lack of access to stable supplies of water is reaching critical proportions, particularly for agricultural purposes, and the problem will worsen because of rapid urbanization worldwide and the roughly 1.2 billion persons to be added over the next 20 years.  Today,
  • Experts consider 21 countries, with a combined population of about 600 million, to be either cropland or freshwater scarce.  Owing to continuing population growth, 36 countries, with about 1.4 billion people, are projected to fall into this category by 2025.
  • In the absence of employment opportunities and legal means for political expression, conditions will be ripe for disaffection, growing radicalism, and possible recruitment of youths into terrorist groups.  Terrorist groups in 2025 will likely be a combination of descendants of long- established groups—that inherit organizational structures, command and control processes, and training procedures necessary to conduct sophisticated attacks—and newly emergent collections of the angry and disenfranchised that become self-radicalized.

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