End of the world as we know it

November 29, 2008 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Well, I have to admit I’m in a bit of a dark, brooding mood right now. The ongoing financial hissy fit, emerging social problems and the horror of the terrorist attack in Mumbai have all converged to leave me a bit desperate about the future. Then along came a report I should have left alone!

I pity Prez-elect Obama. He will be inheriting, well…a mess. If he had taken office four years ago, the future might have looked rosier. Every four years, the National Intelligence Council releases a report called the Global Trends Review. The 2004 report confidently stated that the world would witness continued US dominance. But the latest report is full of doom and gloom and a less prominent US in world affairs.

I’m sure that Obama has been reading Global Trends 2025 with his head in his hands. The report is subtitled A Transformed World and herein lies the doom and gloom bit. What a dramatic and sobering shift in four short years.  Here are some tidbits:

  • new kids on the block – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are emerging economies that will grow at America’s expense. The traditional Western alliances will weaken and more countries may be attracted to China’s alternative development model.
  • and here’s something we’re already seeing: “The State’s role in the economy may be gaining more appeal throughout the world”.
  • the power of non-state actors like religious groups, criminal networks, tribes and businesses will increase.
  • the unprecedented shift in relative wealth and economic power from West to East now under way will continue.
  • the US will be less dominant.
  • shortages of fuel, food and water will spark conflicts.
  • growth of the Muslim population in Europe to 20-30 million with accompanying potential sources of conflict.
  • potential emergence of a global pandemic – a virulent human respiratory illness – with tension and conflict as nations struggle to control the movement of populations across borders (I really think this is a very high probability).
  • Warfare in 2025 will be characterised by several strategic trends – the increasing importance of information; the adoption of irregular warfare tactics; the rise of non-military tactics such as cyber, economic and information-based forms of conflict.

The report has a number of very interesting global fictionalised scenarios such as The World Without The West and BRIC’s bust up. I suggest you get a strong cup of coffee (or a bottle of vodka), curl up and read the report. I found it fascinating albeit it left me in a pretty dark mood!

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Entry filed under: Future predictions, Future trends, Politics, United States, Useful resources. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Joe Six-Pack  |  November 29, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    To a certain extent, some of these trends are natural. The U.S. cannot continue to be as dominate as it was in the post-World War II era. Some is avoidable, although it will take more political will than is probably available.

    Shortages of resources have historically sparked conflict, as they do on a personal level. It is in all of us, it is a part of human nature. That conflict can easily become violent on the national level if the problems become large enough.

    I would like to comment about the statement of growth of the Muslim population in Europe. The growth of violence as the Muslim population grows is almost a certanity. Witness the rampant irregular warfare that is occurring throughout the Islamic world. With the Muslim population’s inability to assimilate to new cultures, this trend can be expected to continue and grow in the expanding immigrated areas.

    Reply

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