The National Intelligence Council’s previous report in 2017 correctly predicted a coming pandemic.
Rabat – An important report by the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) is raising alarms over a coming global crisis of societal fragmentation. The Global Trends 2040 report paints a dire view of possible coming crises as seen by US intelligence agencies.
The report paints five scenarios that could occur by 2040, some optimistic and some pessimistic. Which scenario is likely to occur is down to the severity of upcoming global challenges, how governments respond to such crises, and what priorities states pursue.
One scenario, titled “renaissance of democracies,” envisions a world where neoliberal economics leads to a global increase in living standards and a “resurgence of open democracies led by the United States and its allies.” It predicts that China and Russia would come out as the losers in such a scenario. Increased prosperity, this scenario envisions, would allow the international community to better address global and domestic challenges.
Another positive scenario titled “competitive coexistence” describes US-China relations returning to a pre-Trump era form of technological, economic, and ideological competition. Such a competition would mean “the risk of major war is low, and international cooperation and technological innovation make global problems manageable over the near term.” Still, the report warns that such a scenario would mean that “longer term climate challenges remain.”
The third scenario, “tragedy and mobilization,” posits a coming global coalition led by the EU and China that would use “far-reaching changes” to fight climate change, poverty, and resource depletion. It predicts that climate change could spark a global food crisis, with richer countries shifting to assist poorer ones amid an awakening of global consciousness.
Fragmentation and competition
The remaining scenarios paint a much more bleak picture of the future.
The report”s “separate silos” scenario predicts a fragmented world where major powers fight over “self-sufficiency, resiliency and defense.” This scenario, the report posits, would mean international trade is disrupted and developing countries are “caught in the middle” as global issues such as climate change are “spottily addressed, if at all.”
This scenario would have far-reaching consequences for our globalized world. It would result in “information flows within separate cyber-sovereign enclaves, supply chains are reoriented, and international trade is disrupted.”
Troubles in the West would fuel the NIC’s “a world adrift” scenario. In this scenario, the US intelligence report predicts a global system that is “directionless, chaotic, and volatile as international rules and institutions are largely ignored by major powers like China, regional players, and nonstate actors.”
Slower economic growth, political paralysis, and widening societal divisions would allow China to come out as a winner, “taking advantage of the West’s troubles,” the report states. Such a scenario would see China’s regional leadership grow significantly. Still, the report claims that China would lack “the will and military might” to come out as a new global leader.
The NIC, as part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has published its “Global Trends Report” every four years since 1997. The predictions in the report are worth considering, especially as the previous publication of the report, in 2017, made some preciscient forecasts about a coming pandemic.
In 2017, the NIC warned that a coming pandemic would result in “dramatically reduced global travel in an effort to contain the spread of the disease, contributing to the slowing of global trade and decreased productivity.”
The 2017 intelligence report correctly predicted US and EU protectionism fueled by domestic challenges. In 2012 it predicted a coming tide of ideological divides that have since shaken global faith in US democracy and deepened internal divides in Europe.