Global Trends 2015
January 21, 2001 2:18 AM   Subscribe

Global Trends 2015 A paper published “under authority of the Director of Central Intelligence.” In which, we find the CIA believes “US global influence [will] wane” and that countries which “fail to benefit from globalization, are prone to internal conflicts, and risk state failure.”

I can see Uncle Sam pointing and saying “Shapen up, or else.”
posted by capt.crackpipe (23 comments total)
maybe that's because for all its flaws, the USA is still the greatest nation in the world, and anyone who doesn't like it can wangle my dangle
posted by chaz at 2:44 AM on January 21, 2001


After you typed your post, did you slam a brew and high five your frat brother with one hand while grabbing a cheerleader's ass with the other?
posted by Optamystic at 2:59 AM on January 21, 2001

Nationalism is cute, isn’t it?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:54 AM on January 21, 2001

Does the CIA mean that third world nations will continue to short of everything which at present they are short of, and if so, wow, this is a true insight...the most important part of that CIA prognosis was made a few years back by E.O. Wilson, repeated in the report: a growing shortage of water throughout the world which will cause many conflicts within and between countries and along with growing food shortages, attempts at immigrations, from those places with the worst problems to those places thought to be in better shape.
posted by Postroad at 3:58 AM on January 21, 2001

Hmmm... 2015. The project code of the Puppetmaster in Ghost in the Shell which was orginally designed to perform global espionage.

(twillight zone theme plays in background)
posted by john at 4:13 AM on January 21, 2001


i was reading the section on canada. i kept waiting for the last sentence to say, "oh wait, that's today. in conclusion, 2015 will be like just like it is now for canada."

posted by will at 7:26 AM on January 21, 2001

posted by argybarg at 7:56 AM on January 21, 2001

Heh. Shapen is adjective, not a verb. My bad.

“We need to make the pie higher.”
posted by capt.crackpipe at 8:06 AM on January 21, 2001

"But we have the bombs."

Recommended reading for Colin and Condi: Paul Kennedy's Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: the work of a great north-country scholar, with a foot on both sides of the Atlantic.

He's arguing from historical precedent that "great powers run the risk of declining if they spend overmuch on their military and neglect their domestic base" and suggests that "Unlike the Zaires or the Somalias of the world, India and China are nascent great powers, although they have developing world difficulties in heading off the population explosion. If they can meet that challenge, they will go into the 21st century in a very different condition."

Food for thought.
posted by holgate at 8:19 AM on January 21, 2001

And a good review of Kennedy's book: "Power can be maintained only by a prudent balance between the creation of wealth and military expenditure, and great powers in decline almost always hasten their demise by shifting expenditure from the former to the latter."

So, according to this viewpoint: retrenchment from the "overextension" of foreign assignments, good; increased military spending, bad.
posted by holgate at 8:22 AM on January 21, 2001

Holgate, truer words have never been spoken. Kennedy is repeating what Washington said in his Farewell Address, and I suspect other world leaders with a modicum of intelligence have believed the same.

It’s funny, the only American presidential candidate who wanted to cut the military to empower democracy was never taken seriously, but then neither was Washington’s address. It’s read often around DC, but nobody seems to really be paying attention.

“...they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”
— George Washington

US military budget: $270.6 billion, a $3 billion increase from 1998.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2001

I don't think we need to slap the CIA with a wet towel because they're picking up a general observation made years ago and applying it in a report. This is something for the President to read, and one hopes he will (assuming he reads reports in less than six to eight weeks, like that book on the presidency he was carrying around for half the campaign).

Shapen up is unusual but occasionally used. It has a certain euphony; the original OE word had the -en suffix, and the phrase may be influenced by "sharpen up".

Condi is a Realist. Is Kennedy?
posted by dhartung at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2001

Captain, many presidents have wanted to cut the military, or have warned about the dangers of uncontrolled growth of military spending. The phrase "Military-industrial complex" comes from a speech President Eisenhower made where he warned about the damage that could be done to the economy and the country by uncontrolled growth of military spending. (This is, of course, the same Eisenhower who commanded allied forces in the European theater in WWII.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:17 AM on January 21, 2001

You have to realize that a large % of the MIC is(was) R&D. It has potential domestic benefits, like the microwave, radar, cell-phones, and that other, the internet!
posted by Mick at 10:28 AM on January 21, 2001

Thanks Dan. I’m smart even when I’m stupid.

That’s true, Steven. JFK, I believe, wasn’t the Pentagon’s best friend, but so few people in power even consider giving lip service to military cuts. Ike did the same thing a lot of outgoing presidents do: he found a sense of social justice as he left the White House. Which is about as useful for posterity as banging on one’s head to cure a headache.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:51 AM on January 21, 2001

It's difficult to give CIA predictions any serious credence, given their track record on, say, the dismantling of the Soviet Union and, more importantly, their consistent efforts to dissemble and pretend they saw everything coming, all evidence to the contrary. Much of this report falls in with the usual CIA pessimism, which has the primary goal of justifying extravagant defense spending. The problem is not the agency's pessimistic view, which may be accurate in many respects, but how politically driven it is and always has been.
posted by Joe Hutch at 12:27 PM on January 21, 2001

It has potential domestic benefits, like the microwave, radar, cell-phones, and that other, the internet!

I'm sure that the thought of consumer-level GPS makes families on the poverty line just sing with glee for military funding.

(Anyway, most of the funding for the net wasn't "military", as Manuel Castells has pointed out in researching the growth of the net; it was academic, with military affiliations: transfer protocols emerged as side-projects to the ostensible military objectives...)
posted by holgate at 12:59 PM on January 21, 2001

After you typed your post, did you slam a brew and high five your frat brother with one hand while grabbing a cheerleader's ass with the other?

Yes, because anyone who loves America is obviously a drunken, sexually harrassing fratboy.

I'll admit to the drunken part, but no more.
posted by chaz at 6:19 PM on January 21, 2001

back to spending and the collapse of civilization...

we spend more money on health insurance paper pushing (not actual health care) then we do on the military as a percentage of GNP. And %50 of all health care costs are spent in the last 2 weeks of life to keep us alive 2 weeks longer on average. European countries after WWII made a pact with its people that they would get free health care as part of the domestication of Europe so it wouldnt keep fighting wars (latest Wired article).. well those countries will go bankrupt if current trends continue (see Russia for what happens average life span is 57 years). Its not the military that will do us in.. its health care.
posted by stbalbach at 8:38 PM on January 21, 2001


I wasn't implying that the cheerleader did not give her consent.
posted by Optamystic at 10:35 PM on January 21, 2001

I believe that the CIA has enough people making predictions about things that a significant number of them will be wrong. Or right. Most of the stuff they do is probably accurate, we just never hear about it.

For my money, this "social trends" report has some really useful things in it, as opposed to all the years they were politically compromised to report any and everything through the spectre of anti-communism.

The US, like other countries, has had a difficult time with military stand-downs. After both World Wars, the military was arguably trimmed too quickly and haphazardly. Then we had the artificial military stance, extended for nearly two entire generations, of the Cold War. During the Cold War we were effectively at war so military cutbacks were fraught with much more dire political consequences than, say, today. As a result almost everyone in both parties was a hawk (among Presidential candidates, McGovern being the exception that proves the rule).

We've generally had a good and well-managed stand-down from the Cold War. The use of terms like "hollow military" by the GOP begs explanation. The hollow military of the seventies was a cash-strapped force spread across too many bases with too few opportunities for real training; it was a force in waiting, milling around, with a poorly-defined mission. Today's military is almost the opposite: stretched thin by responsibilities, downsized from the Cold War but not rightsized for peacekeeping. The biggest problem today is that military units can't train because they're busy policing. The GOP complains about this, but nobody ever complained about the millions of troops we had hurry-up-and-waiting on the East German and North Korean borders. Which is better for professional soldiers -- training endlessly for an invasion that never comes, or spending time in the field in a setting that approximates future missions?
posted by dhartung at 12:42 AM on January 22, 2001

Which is better for professional soldiers -- training endlessly for an invasion that never comes, or spending time in the field in a setting that approximates future missions?

It doesn't matter what's better for soldiers (and yes, when you talk to soldiers in the Balkans, for instance, there's a real enthusiasm for the mission, driven by the belief that they're making a difference): it's what's better for politicians. And that option doesn't involve body bags.
posted by holgate at 5:00 AM on January 22, 2001

$270.6 billion, a $3 billion increase from 1998

Wow, up just over one percent during a period in which the CPI went up some (I'm guesstimating here, pls correct) 6%? Sounds essentially like a cut. Not much of one, but a cut.
posted by daveadams at 9:38 AM on January 22, 2001

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