U.S. Global Trends report predicts gloomy future

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin)

The U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) published its new report "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World." It is not a good prelude to President Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20.

The report predicts a gloomy future for the United States, and the only scant consolation is that its predictions are for 2025 when neither Obama nor many other current leaders will be in power.

The NIC comes up with these reports every four years. This report is the fourth since 1997, and the most dismal, at least for the United States.

The report has some good news for Russia. The one negative for us is a reduction from the current 141 million people to 130 million in 2025, which is an open secret. Otherwise, we will continue to benefit from oil and gas, and even global warming.

According to the report, by 2025 the European Union will not be able to diversify its energy imports and will still depend on Russian energy sources. By 2025, Europe's energy consumption will go up by 60%, and 57% of all gas reserves will be amassed in Russia, Iraq, and Qatar. Many of the current oil producers will lose their positions, and almost 40% of the world's oil will come from six countries: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. For aggregate oil and gas reserves, there will be two great energy powers, Russia and Iran.

Global warming will bring trouble, like floods and draughts, to some countries, whereas Russia will only gain from it. We will expand cultivated land, and have easier access to gas, oil, and other Arctic mineral resources. Russia will also gain from the opening of Arctic navigation.

However, Russia may not be so lucky if it does not invest heavily in human resources, expand and diversify its economy (that is, if it does not kick its oil and gas habit), and integrate into the world markets. Our influence will not grow if oil prices do not exceed $50 to $70 per barrel.

The report predicts that the United States will continue losing its influence. It will remain a powerful state in 2025, but will be less dominant. The same fate will befall the dollar. The void left from America's decline will be filled by Brazil, India, China, and the Korean Peninsular (apparently, by that time two Koreas will merge). The latter three are likely to form an association.

The world will become multipolar, and Western models of economic liberalism and democracy will lose their appeal (which is already happening). The EU will lose its influence and become a "hobbled giant." Wars may break out because of limited resources, water, oil and gas... This sounds horrible.

It would sound even worse if these reports were flawless. In the previous reports for 2010, 2015, and 2020, intelligence analysts made forecasts which contradict what they are writing now. They predicted the growth of the EU's role and influence, and the steady advance of Western economies by about 2% a year through 2010.

These reports are not accurate forecasts but rather a reminder for U.S. leaders what will happen if they do not pursue this or that policy. They offer food for thought and encourage certain ideas.

To see whether the NIC is objective in its reports, we should recall what it is. This is the number one think tank headed by the director of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, Michael McConnell, and conducts medium- and long-term strategic analysis. Its current chairman Thomas Fingar is his direct subordinate. The NIC was set up in 1979.

The NIC submits its reports to all U.S. leaders. National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) is its main commodity. Most of them are classified, but there are always inspired leaks to the press. The council makes what it calls over-the-horizon analysis. Sometimes, it goes far beyond that for political reasons. The NIC, as is often the case with intelligence organizations set up for administrations, always deviates moderately from the party line. With time it dawns on them that they are expected to say what is required of them rather than make predictions.

This makes the NIC's role most unrewarding. It is supposed to coordinate the analytical reports of all U.S. intelligence centers - the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the political intelligence of the Department of State, intelligence services of the army, air force, and navy, as well as of the border patrol, the departments of the Treasury and Energy, and finally, the FBI (counterintelligence).

But here is the problem. All these services and departments are trying to take advantage of the NIC, trying to push presidents, departments, or Congress to make the "right" decisions. The NIE and analysis of intelligence information always lead to heated debates for this reason. They analyze any subject - from Russia or Israeli's nuclear weapons to the evaluation of potential consequences of a poor rice harvest in Asia. The NIC may produce several reports per year. The heads of the afore-mentioned departments are furious when they find out that their assessments did not make it to the NIE's final version. The same is happening with Global Trends.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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