[NYT] Outlook 2015

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From: Rohit Khare (Rohit@KnowNow.com)
Date: Sun Dec 17 2000 - 23:08:47 PST

[No, not the software program. A sort of distant echo of the
Carter-era Global 2000 report. I would love to dig out my c1987
analysis of that ol' beast... anyone recall the club of rome?
Luckily, the prospect of India, China, and Russia agreeing on
anything is slim enough that the muddling scenarios below will come
to pass... Rohit]

2015 Outlook: Enough Food, Scarce Water, Porous Borders


WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - In a sweeping projection of what the world will
look like in 2015, the intelligence community has concluded that
issues like the availability of water and food, changes in population
and the spread of information and disease will increasingly affect
the national security of the United States.

The assessment, contained in an unclassified report called "Global
Trends 2015," also makes a number of predictions about the political
landscape of the world.

Russia, for example, will continue to become weaker - economically,
militarily and socially, the report predicts. China will be faced by
political, economic and social pressures that will "increasingly
challenge the regime's legitimacy, and perhaps its survival." And
Israel "at best" will conclude a "cold peace" with its adversaries.

In addition, the report lays out a number of what it calls unlikely
but nevertheless "possible" scenarios.

One is that strategically important countries like Iran and Nigeria
and even strategic allies of the United States like Israel could fall
victim to internal religious or ethnic divisions, "and crisis
ensues." Another is that China, India and Russia "form a de facto
geo-strategic alliance in an attempt to counterbalance U.S. and
Western influence."

In terms of global resources, the report concludes that by 2015,
nearly half of the world's population - more than three billion
people - will be in countries lacking sufficient water, and that even
more genetically modified crops or projects to desalt sea water will
not substantially help.

The 70-page report is one result of an unusual 15-month collaboration
between the National Intelligence Council, a sort of analytical think
tank of senior intelligence officials that works alongside the
C.I.A., and dozens of outside scientific, diplomatic and corporate
experts. It is not a traditional intelligence report based on
classical intelligence sources and methods.

"This was a serious effort to provide a context to discuss
opportunities as well as threats to the U.S. national security
community," said John Gannon, chairman of the National Intelligence
Council, in an interview. The purpose, he said, is to get policy
makers to focus on long- term global trends and to think beyond the
ordinary concerns of the intelligence community.

An advance copy of the report, which will be released on Monday, was
made available to The New York Times. Copies of the report were
delivered late last week to the White House, other agencies of
government and members of the team of President-elect George W. Bush.

Some intelligence officials are concerned that persuading the Bush
national security team to look beyond traditional threats will be
particularly challenging.

In an article in Foreign Affairs, written during the campaign,
Condoleezza Rice, who will be Mr. Bush's national security adviser,
argued, for instance, that "national interest" was too often replaced
by "humanitarian interest" or the interests of "the international

Instead, she suggested, the United States should promote what is in
its own interest - democracy or free trade, for example.

But other intelligence officials say a greater problem is that the
structure of the national security bureaucracy leads it to look at
the world first country by country and then in terms of geographical

"You try to tell people that disease is rising in four out of five
continents - well, the regional assistant secretaries have to be
persuaded to put it on their agendas first," said one senior
intelligence official.

Although the conventional wisdom in Washington, particularly on
Capitol Hill, is that China will become more of a regional military
threat, the report concludes that modernization of the country's
agricultural and national infrastructure will be higher priorities
than military investment.

"The evidence strongly suggests" that China's new leaders "will be
even more firmly committed to developing the economy as the
foundation of national power and that resources for military
capabilities will take a secondary role," it says.

Despite all the intelligence resources devoted to China, the report
states repeatedly that it cannot say with any certainty what the
Chinese state will look like in 15 years.

While most of those taking part in the study concluded that economic
growth would continue, the report acknowledges that it will be
difficult to meld the openness that growth requires with political
control. "Estimates of developments in China over the next 15 years
are fraught with unknowables," the report bluntly states.

The outlook for Russia, particularly its economy, is bleak. "Besides
a crumbling physical infrastructure, years of environmental neglect
are taking a toll on the populations, a toll made worse by such
societal costs of transition as alcoholism, cardiac diseases, drugs
and a worsening health delivery system."

The Russian population, which will become more sickly, may shrink in
size from 146 million to 130 million in 15 years, the report says.
Even under a best-case scenario of 5 percent annual economic growth,
Russia would attain an economy less than one-fifth the size of the
United States'.

In the Middle East, by 2015, there will be a Palestinian state, the
report says, but "Israel will have attained a cold peace with its
neighbors, with only limited social, economic and cultural ties."

A key driving trend for the Middle East in the next 15 years will be
population pressures. Even now, in nearly all of the Middle Eastern
countries, more than half of the population is under 20 years of age.
"In much of the Middle East, populations will be significantly
larger, poorer, more urban and more disillusioned."

The report concludes that the population of the world will grow from
the current 6.1 billion to 7.2 billion by 2015. Ninety-five percent
of that growth is expected to occur in the developing world, and
nearly all of it in rapidly expanding urban areas.

"Megacities" of more than 10 million people will continue to grow,
straining or even crippling roads, bridges and sewerage and
electrical systems. The population of Jakarta will more than double,
from 9.5 million to 21.2 million; Lagos will double from 12.2 million
to 24.4 million.

The good news is that there will be enough energy resources in 2015,
despite a 50 percent rise in global demand, the report says. It also
predicts that there will be enough food to feed the world's growing
population, although "poor infrastructure and distribution, political
instability and chronic poverty" will lead to malnutrition in parts
of sub-Saharan Africa.

The main resource problem will be water, the shortages so acute that
they could cause regional instability. Problems could include
Turkey's construction of new irrigation projects on the Tigris and
Euphrates, which would reduce the water flowing into Syria and Iraq,
and ambitious projects in Ethiopia and Sudan that could divert water
from the Nile and reduce the flow into Egypt.

In terms of disease, the report underscores earlier intelligence
projections that AIDS and tuberculosis are likely to account for the
majority of deaths in most developing countries in 15 years. In some
African countries, average life spans will be reduced by as much as
30 to 40 years, leaving more than 40 million children orphaned and
contributing to poverty, crime and instability.

In many cases the report makes stark predictions without offering
specific evidence or footnotes. These are some of its other judgments:

¶Japan will have "difficulty" maintaining its current position as the
world's third-largest economy.

¶India "most likely" will expand the size of its nuclear-capable force.

¶Pakistan's nuclear and missile forces will continue to increase.

¶Russia will not join the European Union.

¶The very concept of "belonging" to a particular state will probably erode.

In one of its most sweeping conclusions, the report says governments
will have less and less control over flows of information,
technology, diseases, migrants, arms and financial transactions,
whether legal or illegal, across their borders.

"States with ineffective and incompetent governance not only will
fail to benefit from globalization," it says, "but in some instances
will spawn conflicts at home and abroad, ensuring an even wider gap
between regional winners and losers that exists today."

Globalization, the report said, "will not lift all boats."

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