Predicting the future: this is the ambition of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), public branch of the CIA, which, every five years, considering the state of the world in the next two decades. A first draft of its last fiscal year, entitled “Global Trends 2030”, has already made the rounds of think tanks in Washington for publication after the November elections.
This first draft announcement technical revolutions that could transform international relations, the spread of GMOs to the futuristic 3D printer through the improvement of brain performance or artificial human cloning. NIC has taken into account criticisms of previous reports. This time, the document incorporates the changing nature of American power in a world in transition.
By 2030, the NIC identifies major trends that will shape almost certain the international system: liberation of the individual (individual empowerment), demography, dispersion of power (distribution of power), energy issues, water and feeding. The impact of either of these constants is affected by key variables, including the economy and global governance, armed conflict, technology and, decisively, the role of the United States . This dynamic points to three scenarios for 2030: “Roll back” (reverse engines), “cooperation” (fusion) and “disintegration” (fragmentation).
The latter scenario is, the authors’ own admission, most likely. Unequal economic growth redistributes the power cards. The West is weakened in favor of Asia, while market volatility and climate change threaten global stability. In this world “disintegrated”, the general lack of political will to solve global problems marginalizes multilateral organizations and increases the risk of interstate conflict. If major military conflicts – for example between China and the United States – can be avoided, the world is constantly on the brink.
The scenario “flashback”, which provides a return to a world “pre-American”, that is to say to the instability of the first half of the twentieth century, is not optimistic. Entangled in their budget problems, the United States no longer have the ability to project itself internationally. First well received by emerging countries, the withdrawal is quick source of imbalance. Ethnic tensions and geopolitical Asia and the Middle East are rapidly converted into open conflict, in a context of global economic stagnation.
The future for 2030 therefore appears dark. Of the three scenarios in this first draft of “Global Trends 2030”, the only one conspicuously positive realism. “Cooperation” in fact describes the birth of a world of brotherhood, led by China and the United States, whose collaboration in technology would trigger a new golden age for international relations. It should cross your fingers.