Future Predictions - Who Will Have the Power?
Highlights by David Willden
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) spearheads the creation of a global trends report - every four years. The information provided in these reports is used for planning purposes by the U.S. Intelligence Community, policy makers, the White House, and others. In generating the global trends report, the NIC conducts workshops, conferences, and interviews with top experts, universities and think tanks around the world.
In the latest "Global Trends 2030 report," NIC indicates we are approaching a turning or inflection point that could lead us to a future of:
We will likely see variations somewhere in between these two extremes. What happens will depend on how we adapt and respond to the global trends.
The world is in the midst of unparalleled and unprecedented change. The impact, pace, and complexity of this transformation is stunning. Communications technology is a key reason for this change. The NIC sees a trend toward greater global democratization - which is exciting. On the other hand, cooperatively tackling global challenges might become more vexing because of larger number of players and their dissimilar views.
Geopolitical uncertainty will be a feature of the coming next two decades. Concerns of terrorism are in the back of our minds. Terrorism will remain an ongoing concern. Whether the United States, China and Russia will work cooperatively is unknown. Whether the European Union will remain strong is unknown.
"Future worlds are not pre-ordained." The future of the world’s future will be in no small measure the result of human agency, of how key actors adapt and respond to unfolding dynamic global trends: demographic changes; the diffusion of power; and the nexus of energy, water, and food stresses.
Power is the ability to obtain desired outcomes.
Globalization has brought about a diffusion of power among nation-states and has increased tech-driven empowerment of individuals, non-state actors, and networks. The redistribution of clout, combined with ongoing technological innovation, is changing the nature of power in the 21st century.
Exercising power is much more difficult and more complicated than ever. As former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft has explained “the very nature of power is being transformed. It is not based to the same extent on how many people are under arms or the strength of the national economy, but instead on more subtle attributes and levers of influence.”
The term “superpower” was used in 1944 to describe the British Empire, the Soviet Union and the United States of America. A country was referred to as a superpower when it played a dominate position in the international community.
Britain was example of a superpower. After World War II, the British Empire became a Commonwealth. Each of its territories became independent.
From 1944 until 1991, there were two superpowers that remained - the United States and the Soviet Union. Each of these countries confronted each other in what is termed as the “Cold War.” In 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved. Arguably the United States of America became the sole superpower.
By 2030, the world won't have dominate superpowers.
NiC shares that the global role China chooses to play and the character of United States and China relations will determine that the international system looks like in 2030. The United States and China are the world’s two largest national economies totaling roughly 35 percent of global GDP. China holds $ 1.2 trillion dollars in U.S. treasuries. On the other hand, United States companies have over $ 115 billion dollars in investments in China.
China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States prior to 2030. China could have a population of around 961 million by 2030.
While the United States and China will be major international players, they won't wield the same influence that superpowers have held in the past.
As the world’s largest economic power, China is expected to have the advantage over India.The gap, however, between the two states could begin to close by 2030. India’s rate of economic growth is likely to rise while China’s slows. In 2030, India could be the rising economic powerhouse that China is today.
In Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Nigeria could approach or surpass South Africa in overall power. For this to occur, there must be better governance - resulting in economic, social and human growth.
Vietnam’s economy will likely continue to steadily improve, approaching Thailand by 2030.
It is anticipated that Brazil will continue to maintain itself as the major economic player in Latin America.
Germany's economic outlook looks bright. Germany will likely be the key influencer among the 26 European Union countries. Russia's population will drop around 10 million people by 2030. They could maintain their current influence - depending on how their economy performs.
Companies like Google and Facebook have access to considerable amounts of information. These and similar companies are learning how to better analyze and predict behavior from the data they have access to. These type of players will continue to rise in their influence.
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Future Predictions - Who Will Have the Power?