From Global Crisis to "Global
US Intelligence: A Review of Global
by Andrew G. Marshall
The United States' National Intelligence Council has released
a report, entitled "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World".
This declassified document is the fourth report of the Global
Trends 2025: The National Intelligence Council's 2025 Project,
__The report outlines the paths that current geopolitical and
economic trends may reach by the year 2025, in order to guide
strategic thinking over the next few decades. The National Intelligence
Council describes itself as the US Intelligence Community's "center
for midterm and long-term strategic thinking," with the tasks
of supporting the Director of National Intelligence, reaching
out to non-governmental experts in academia and the private sector
and it leads in the effort of providing National Intelligence
The report was written with the active participation of not only
the US intelligence community, but also numerous think tanks,
consulting firms, academic institutions and hundreds of other
experts. Among the participating organizations were the Atlantic
Council of the United States, the Wilson Center, RAND Corporation,
the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, Texas
A&M University, the Council on Foreign Relations and Chatham
House in London, which is the British equivalent of the CFR.
Among the many things envisioned in this report to either be completed
or under way by 2025 are the formation of a global multipolar
international system, the possibility of a return of mercantilism
by great powers in which they go to war over dwindling resources,
the growth of China as a great world power, the position of India
as a strong pole in the new multipolar system, a decline of capitalism
in the form of more state-capitalism, exponential population growth
in the developing world, continuing instability in Africa, a decline
in food availability, partly due to climate change, continued
terrorism, the possibility of nuclear war, the emergence of regionalism
in the form of strong regional blocks in North America, Europe,
and Asia, and the decline of US power and with that, the superiority
of the dollar.
The Economics of Change
The discussion of global economics begins with analyzing the potential
repercussions of the current global financial crisis. It states
that the crisis "is accelerating the global economic rebalancing.
Developing countries have been hurt; several, such as Pakistan
with its large current account deficit, are at considerable risk.
Even those with cash reserves-such as South Korea and Russia-have
been severely buffeted; steep rises in unemployment and inflation
could trigger widespread political instability and throw emerging
powers off course." However, it states, "if China, Russia,
and Mideast oil exporters can avoid internal crises," they
may be able to buy foreign assets, provide financial assistance
to struggling countries and "seed new regional initiatives."
It says that the biggest change for the West will be "the
increase in state power. Western governments now own large swaths
of their financial sectors and must manage them, potentially politicizing
markets." It continues in saying that there is a prospect
for a new "Bretton Woods," to "regulate the global
economy," however, "Failure to construct a new all-embracing
architecture could lead countries to seek security through competitive
monetary policies and new investment barriers, increasing the
potential for market segmentation."
The report states that as a result of the major financial disruptions
under-way and those still to come, there is a need to rebalance
the global economy. However, "this rebalancing will require
long-term efforts to establish a new international system."
It states that major problem to overcome will be a possible backlash
against foreign trade and investment by corporations, particularly
in "emerging economies," with the potential of fueling
"protectionist forces" in the US; an increasing competition
for resources between emerging economies such as Russia, China,
India and even Gulf states; a decline in democratization, as the
China-model for development becomes attractive to other emerging
economies, authoritarian regimes and even "weak democracies
frustrated by years of economic underperformance"; the role
of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) in providing more financial assistance
to developing countries than the World Bank and IMF, which could
lead to "diplomatic realignments and new relationships"
between China, Russia, India and Gulf states with the developing
world; the loss of the dollar as the "global reserve currency,"
as "foreign policy actions might bring exposure to currency
shock and higher interest rates for Americans," and a "move
away from the dollar" which would be precipitated by "uncertainties
and instabilities in the international financial system.
The dollar's decline as a "global reserve currency"
will be relegated to "something of a first among equals in
a basket of currencies by 2025. This could occur suddenly in the
wake of a crisis, or gradually with global rebalancing."
It states that for the first time in history, the financial landscape
will be "genuinely global and multipolar," and that,
"redirection toward regional financial centers could soon
spill over into other areas of power." It states that there
is potential for a divide within the West between the US and EU,
so long as they continue divergent economic policies, where Europe
is more state-centric and with the US as more market-based. However,
"the enhanced role of the state in Western economies may
also lessen the contrast between the two models." This enhanced
role of the state in economic matters is largely due to the current
In outlining Latin America's path for the next two decades, the
report states that many countries will have become middle income
powers, however, "those that have embraced populist policies,
will lag behind-and some, such as Haiti, will have become even
poorer and still less governable." It says Brazil will become
the major power of the region, but that, "efforts to promote
South American integration will be realized only in part. Venezuela
and Cuba will have some form of vestigial influence in the region
in 2025, but their economic problems will limit their appeal."
However, it said that many parts of Latin America will remain
among "the world's most violent areas," and that, "US
influence in the region will diminish somewhat, in part because
of Latin America's broadening economic and commercial relations
with Asia, Europe, and other blocs."
In discussing the issue of Muslim immigration into the European
Union, the report states that, "Countries with growing numbers
of Muslims will experience a rapid shift in ethnic composition,
particularly around urban areas, potentially complicating efforts
to facilitate assimilation and integration." Further, "the
increasing concentration could lead to more tense and unstable
situations, such as occurred with the 2005 Paris suburban riots."
This mass immigration and reactions of Europeans, among other
factors, "are likely to confine many Muslims to low-status,
low-wage jobs, deepening ethnic cleavages. Despite a sizeable
stratum of integrated Muslims, a growing number-driven by a sense
of alienation, grievance, and injustice-are increasingly likely
to value separation in areas with Muslim-specific cultural and
The report also states that by 2025, Europe "will have made
slow progress toward achieving the vision of current leaders and
elites: a cohesive, integrated, and influential global actor able
to employ independently a full spectrum of political, economic,
and military tools in support of European and Western interests
and universal ideals. The European Union would need to resolve
a perceived democracy gap dividing Brussels from European voters
and move past protracted debate about its institutional structures."
In other words, the move toward a European superstate will revolve
around convincing the public that it is not a threat to democracy
It further states that Europe should and likely will take in "new
members in the Balkans, and perhaps Ukraine and Turkey. However,
continued failure to convince skeptical publics of the benefits
of deeper economic, political, and social integration and to grasp
the nettle of a shrinking and aging population by enacting painful
reforms could leave the EU a hobbled giant."
Russia: Boom or Bust?
The report's focus on Russia stresses two possible scenarios.
One in which Russia triumphs as an international player in the
new international system, with the "potential to be richer,
more powerful, and more self-assured in 2025 if it invests in
human capital, expands and diversifies its economy, and integrates
with global markets. [Emphasis added]" However, Russia could
also take another path, where "multiple constraints could
limit Russia's ability to achieve its full economic potential,"
such as a shortfall in energy investment, an underdeveloped banking
sector, and crime and corruption. It also points out that a "sustained
plunge in global energy prices before Russia has the chance to
develop a more diversified economy probably would constrain economic
growth." Could this be a veiled threat to Russia to either
join into and merge with the international system, which is directed
by Western elites, or face a possible economic backlash, perhaps
in the form of manipulating oil prices? This strategy has not
by any means been unheard of, as a look at the 1973 oil crisis
and the lead up to the first Gulf War in 1991 have proven.
In contemplating Russia's likely future, the report states that
with a more "proactive and influential foreign policy"
Russia could become an "important partner for Western, Asian,
and Middle East capitals; and a leading force in opposition to
US global dominance." However, it states that, "shared
perceptions regarding threats from terrorism and Islamic radicalism
could align Russian and Western security policies more tightly."
In other words, perhaps increased incidents of terrorist activity
in or near Russian territory can force it to align more closely
with the West, if only at first in security integration. It also
elaborates on the other potentiality for Russia, saying that it
is "impossible to exclude alternative futures such as a nationalistic,
authoritarian petro-state or even a full dictatorship."
The report states that there are alternatives with Iran. In one
instance, "political and economic reform in addition to a
stable investment climate could fundamentally redraw both the
way the world perceives the country and also the way in which
Iranians view themselves." This could move Iran away from
"decades of being mired in the Arab conflicts of the Middle
East." Or the other option is Iran starts a nuclear arms
race, continues to become the object of Western alienation, and
may even become unstable and mired in conflict.
A Post-Petroleum World?
The report states that by 2025 there will likely be a "technological
breakthrough that will provide an alternative to oil and gas,
but implementation will lag because of the necessary infrastructure
costs and need for longer replacement time." In this instance,
it states that "Saudi Arabia will absorb the biggest shock,"
and "In Iran, the drop in oil and gas prices will undermine
any populist economic policies," and that, "Incentives
to open up to the West in a bid for greater foreign investment,
establishing or strengthening ties with Western partners - including
the US - will increase." The report also states that, "Outside
the Middle East, Russia will potentially be the biggest loser,
particularly if its economy remains heavily tied to energy exports,
and could be reduced to middle power status. Venezuela, Bolivia,
and other petro-populist regimes could unravel completely, if
that has not occurred beforehand because of already growing discontent
and decreasing production." Again, this raises the issue
of the manipulation or control of oil prices for political purposes,
as the states all likely to be affected negatively by a plunge
in oil prices also happen to be the states most at odds with the
West, and specifically, the United States.
Africa: More of the Same
The report starts off by saying that "Sub-Saharan Africa
will remain the most vulnerable region on Earth in terms of economic
challenges, population stresses, civil conflict, and political
instability. The weakness of states and troubled relations between
states and societies probably will slow major improvements in
the region's prospects over the next 20 years unless there is
sustained international engagement and, at times, intervention.
Southern Africa will continue to be the most stable and promising
sub-region politically and economically." This seems to suggest
that there will be many more cases of "humanitarian intervention,"
likely under the auspices of a Western dominated international
organization, such as the UN.
Further, the region will "continue to be a major supplier
of oil, gas, and metals to world markets and increasingly will
attract the attention of Asian states seeking access to commodities,
including China and India." However, "Poor economic
policies-rooted in patrimonial interests and incomplete economic
reform-will likely exacerbate ethnic and religious divides as
well as crime and corruption in many countries."
It also states that there will likely be a democratic "backslide"
in the most populous African countries, and that, "the region
will be vulnerable to civil conflict and complex forms of interstate
conflict-with militaries fragmented along ethnic or other divides,
limited control of border areas, and insurgents and criminal groups
preying on unarmed civilians in neighboring countries. Central
Africa contains the most troubling of these cases, including Congo-Kinshasa,
Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic, and Chad."
Resurgent Mercantilism and the "Arc of Instability"
The report states that there is a likely possibility of the resurgence
on the world stage of mercantilist foreign policies of great powers,
as access to resources becomes more limited. Perceptions of energy
scarcity "could lead to interstate conflicts if government
leaders deem assured access to energy resources to be essential
to maintaining domestic stability and the survival of their regime."
In particular, "Central Asia has become an area of intense
international competition for access to energy."
The report also states that, "The Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) will remain a geopolitically significant region in 2025,
based on the importance of oil to the world economy and the threat
of instability." It gives a positive and negative scenario.
In the positive, where economic growth becomes "rooted and
sustained," regional leaders will ensure stability both economic
and political. However, "in a more negative scenario, leaders
will fail to prepare their growing populations to participate
productively in the global economy, authoritarian regimes will
hold tightly to power and become more repressive, and regional
conflicts will remain unresolved as population growth strains
The report elaborates that, "youth bulges, deeply rooted
conflicts, and limited economic prospects are likely to keep Palestine,
Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and others in the high-risk category.
Spillover from turmoil in these states and potentially others
increases the chance that moves elsewhere in the region toward
greater prosperity and political stability will be rocky. The
success of efforts to manage and resolve regional conflicts and
to develop security architectures that help stabilize the region
will be a major determinant of the ability of states to grow their
economies and pursue political reform." In other words, expect
continued destabilization of the region.
It states of Iran, that its "fractious regime, nationalist
identity, and ambivalence toward the United States will make any
transition from regional dissenter toward stakeholder perilous
and uneven. Although Iran's aims for regional leadership-including
its nuclear ambitions-are unlikely to abate, its regional orientation
will have difficulty discounting external and internal pressures
In relation to Afghanistan, the report states that, "Western-driven
infrastructure, economic assistance, and construction are likely
to provide new stakes for local rivalries rather than the basis
for a cohesive Western-style economic and social unity."
Further, as "Globalization has made opium Afghanistan's major
cash crop; the country will have difficulty developing alternatives,
particularly as long as economic links for trade with Central
Asia, Pakistan, and India are not further developed." It
states that sectarian conflicts will continue and increase.
The report describes Pakistan as a "wildcard," especially
in relation to conflict in Afghanistan. It states that its Northwest
Frontier Province and tribal areas "will continue to be poorly
governed and the source or supporter of cross-border instability."
It states that, "If Pakistan is unable to hold together until
2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge
and act together to erase the Durand Line," and fractionalize
Pakistan into ethnic divides. Essentially, expect Pakistan to
be broken up into ethnically divided countries and territories.
It also stipulates that Iraq will continue to be plagued by sectarian
and ethnic conflicts, which will spillover into other countries
of the region, as "Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia
will have increasing difficulty staying aloof. An Iraq unable
to maintain internal stability could continue to roil the region.
If conflict there breaks into civil war, Iraq could continue to
provide a strong demonstration of the adverse consequences of
sectarianism to other countries in the region." Put another
way, Iraq will collapse into civil war, break up and become an
example to the rest of the region regarding what happens to countries
that pursue divergent policies from those of the West.
The report states that there is a likely increase in the risk
of a nuclear war, or in the very least, the use of a nuclear weapon
by 2025. "Ongoing low-intensity clashes between India and
Pakistan continue to raise the specter that such events could
escalate to a broader conflict between those nuclear powers."
Further, "The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran spawning a
nuclear arms race in the greater Middle East will bring new security
challenges to an already conflict-prone region, particularly in
conjunction with the proliferation of long-range missile systems."
The report also brings up the prospect of nuclear terrorism as
an increased risk.
The report states that terrorism will by no means disappear from
the international stage by 2025. It interestingly postulates that
there is a possibility of Al-Qaeda's influence as a terrorist
group greatly diminishing, or all together disappearing, being
replaced with new terrorist threats.
It discusses the actions that will likely be pursued by countries
in reaction to terrorist threats, saying that many governments
will be "expanding domestic security forces, surveillance
capabilities, and the employment of special operations-type forces."
Counterterrorism measures will increasingly "involve urban
operations as a result of greater urbanization," and governments
"may increasingly erect barricades and fences around their
territories to inhibit access. Gated communities will continue
to spring up within many societies as elites seek to insulate
themselves from domestic threats." Essentially, expect a
continued move towards and internationalization of domestic police
state measures to control populations.
The report states that there is a distinct possibility of a global
pandemic emerging by 2025. In this case, "internal and cross-border
tension and conflict will become more likely as nations struggle-with
degraded capabilities-to control the movement of populations seeking
to avoid infection or maintain access to resources." It states
that such a likely candidate for a pandemic would be the H5N1
It states that in the event of a global pandemic, likely originating
in a country such as China, "tens to hundreds of millions
of Americans within the US Homeland would become ill and deaths
would mount into the tens of millions," and "Outside
the US, critical infrastructure degradation and economic loss
on a global scale would result as approximately a third of the
worldwide population became ill and hundreds of millions died."
A New International System Is Formed
In discussing the structure and nature of a new international
system, the report states that, "By 2025, nation-states will
no longer be the only - and often not the most important - actors
on the world stage and the 'international system' will have morphed
to accommodate the new reality. But the transformation will be
incomplete and uneven."
The report states that under a situation in which there are many
poles of power in the world, yet little coordination and cooperation
between them all, it would be "unlikely to see an overarching,
comprehensive, unitary approach to global governance. Current
trends suggest that global governance in 2025 will be a patchwork
of overlapping, often ad hoc and fragmented efforts, with shifting
coalitions of member nations, international organizations, social
movements, NGOs, philanthropic foundations, and companies."
In other words, by 2025, there won't be an established global
government, but rather an acceleration of the processes and mechanisms
that have been and currently are underway in efforts to create
a world government.
The report also interestingly points out that, "Most of the
pressing transnational problems - including climate change, regulation
of globalized financial markets, migration, failing states, crime
networks, etc. - are unlikely to be effectively resolved by the
actions of individual nation-states. The need for effective global
governance will increase faster than existing mechanisms can respond
[Emphasis added]." In other words, due to the growing threat
of international problems, which are essentially the result of
Western political-economic-intelligence activities and policies,
the solution is a move toward international governance, which
will be overseen and run by those same Western interests.
In discussing the rise of the emerging powers, particularly China
and India, the report observes that their economic progress has
been "achieved with an economic model that is at odds with
the West's traditional laissez faire recipe for economic development."
So the question is, "whether the new players - and their
alternative approaches - can be melded with the traditional Western
ones to form a cohesive international system able to tackle the
increasing number of transnational issues." It continues,
saying that "the national interests of the emerging powers
are diverse enough, and their dependence on globalization compelling
enough, that there appears little chance of an alternative bloc
forming among them to directly confront the more established Western
order. The existing international organizations - such as the
UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank - may prove sufficiently responsive
and adaptive to accommodate the views of emerging powers, but
whether the emerging powers will be given - or will want - additional
power and responsibilities is a separate question." So, as
the new powers emerge, as a result of Western elite-directed globalization,
they will likely merge with the Western controlled world order
as opposed to becoming an alternative or opposition force to it.
The report discusses the topic of regionalism in different areas
of the world: "Greater Asian integration, if it occurs, could
fill the vacuum left by a weakening multilaterally based international
order but could also further undermine that order. In the aftermath
of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, a remarkable series of pan-Asian
ventures-the most significant being ASEAN + 3-began to take root.
Although few would argue that an Asian counterpart to the EU
is a likely outcome even by 2025, if 1997 is taken as a starting
point, Asia arguably has evolved more rapidly over the last decade
than the European integration did in its first decade(s)."
It further states that, "movement over the next 15 years
toward an Asian basket of currencies-if not an Asian currency
unit as a third reserve-is more than a theoretical possibility."
The report elaborates on the concept of regionalism, stating that,
"Asian regionalism would have global implications, possibly
sparking or reinforcing a trend toward three trade and financial
clusters that could become quasi-blocs (North America, Europe,
and East Asia)." Such blocs "would have implications
for the ability to achieve future global World Trade Organization
agreements and regional clusters could compete in the setting
of trans-regional product standards for IT, biotech, nanotech,
intellectual property rights, and other "new economy"
products." So these three main regional blocs will make up
the initial structure of international governance by 2025, progressing
toward the ultimate goal of a global government.
The Decline of Democracy
_The report states that with democratization around the world,
"advances are likely to slow and globalization will subject
many recently democratized countries to increasing social and
economic pressures that could undermine liberal institutions."
Part of this reasoning is that "the better economic performance
of many authoritarian governments could sow doubts among some
about democracy as the best form of government. The surveys we
consulted indicated that many East Asians put greater emphasis
on good management, including increasing standards of livings,
than democracy." Of great significance, the report also states
that, "even in many well-established democracies, surveys
show growing frustration with the current workings of democratic
government and questioning among elites over the ability of democratic
governments to take the bold actions necessary to deal rapidly
and effectively with the growing number of transnational challenges."
This is a very important point, as among many "well-established
democracies" are the United States, which is already experiencing
a massive shift away from democracy. China, which has been able
to emerge rapidly as a result of Western-controlled globalization,
and which remains authoritarian, can essentially be viewed as
a model for the international system being shaped, as democracies
take a turn toward authoritarianism and other rising powers choose
to pursue development in the same manner. Essentially, the new
international system will mark a move away from democracy and
towards international authoritarianism.
It is important, when reviewing the above information provided
by the report, to understand the perspective of the authors. The
US intelligence community worked closely with businesses, prominent
academic institutions and powerful think tanks, all of which play
extremely significant roles in shaping our current world order.
Thus, the perspectives outlined in the report come with an inherent
bias, and so it is important to "read in between the lines."
The report does NOT state what the objectives of the US intelligence
community, academic institutions, businesses or think tanks will
be in this future 2025 scenario, but you can be assured that they
will not play backseat roles and merely observe situations. These
are among the most powerful players in the international arena,
and this vision of 2025 is the world they are shaping.
So when the report suggests the likely fractionalization of Pakistan,
they do not say that it is a US objective to do so, but rather
that it is a likely possibility that such a scenario will occur.
Thus, it is important to comprehend this information with an understanding
that those who wrote the report, have been, are currently, and
will in all likelihood, continue to be among the most powerful
actors shaping the world order and the new international system.
They have been behind the great "transnational issues"
and are now proposing their "international solutions."
Andrew Marshall is a Research Associate
of the Centre for Research on Globalization
New World Order