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This is the world in 2015
By James Langton in New York

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?acwcia31.html

 

 

THE world is on the brink of a new era that may resemble the script of a James Bond film in which international affairs are increasingly determined by large and powerful organisations rather than governments, according to a study just published by the CIA in Washington.

 

These could include alliances between some of the most powerful criminal groups such as the Mafia and Chinese triads. Such groups, according to the CIA, "will corrupt leaders of unstable, economically fragile or failing states, insinuate themselves into troubled banks and businesses, and co-operate with insurgent political movements to control substantial geographic areas".

The agency adds: "Their income will come from narcotics trafficking; aliens smuggling; trafficking in women and children; smuggling toxic materials, hazardous wastes, illicit arms, military technologies, and other contraband; financial fraud; and racketeering."

The 70-page report, Global Trends 2015, will be required reading for the new president, George W Bush, and his senior policy advisers. It suggests that the early years of the coming century are likely to be filled with both potential and peril.

Compiled with help from think tanks in America and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the report projects a future in which globalisation, whether in the shape of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, giant corporations or terrorist gangs, plays an increasing part in the lives of ordinary people.

"Governments will have less and less control over flows of information, technology, diseases, migrants, arms, and financial transactions, whether licit or illicit," it concludes.

In addition to confronting the growing economic and military power of China and India and the continuing decline of Russia, the CIA says: "Between now and 2015 terrorist tactics will become increasingly sophisticated and designed to achieve mass casualties."

In particular it notes the growing threat of biological and chemical weapons and "suitcase" nuclear devices against the United States. In addition, it expects rogue states such as Iraq and Iran to develop long range missiles in the near future.

Iran, it says, could be testing such weapons by as early as the coming year, and cruise missiles by 2004. Iraq could have missiles capable of hitting America by 2015, with both nations developing nuclear, chemical and biological warheads.

Potential flashpoints have a familiar ring and include India and Pakistan, China's relations with Taiwan, and the Middle East, where the best that can be hoped for is a "cold peace".

Elsewhere, the world population will grow by more than one billion, to 7.2 billion, most of the increase coming in the mega-cities of the developing world. In Europe and Japan, an ageing population and static birthrate means that allowing more immigration may be the only way of meeting a chronic shortage of workers.

The gloomiest predictions are reserved for Africa, where Aids, famine, and continuing economic and political turmoil means that populations in many countries will actually fall. At least three billion people will live in regions where water is in increasingly short supply.

On the other hand, there is good news on energy supplies. "Energy resources will be sufficient to meet demand," the study says. The CIA report is most optimistic on the world economy, which it says has a potential for growth not seen since the 1960s. Computer technology represents "the most significant global transformation since the Industrial Revolution".

"At the same time, genetically modified crops will offer the potential to improve nutrition among the world's one billion malnourished people. China's economy will grow to overtake Europe as the world's second largest but still behind the United States. Russia's economy will contract to barely a fifth of America's.

The study expects the European Union to narrow the economic gap with America. It points out, however, that "lingering labour market rigidity and state regulation" mean that "Europe will not achieve fully the dreams of parity with the US as a shaper of the global economic system".

The 2015 report is an update of a 1997 CIA study into the world in 2010, which it admits failed to anticipate the global economic crisis that occurred between 1997 and 1998 which had the hardest impact in the Far East and Russia.

The new survey suggests a number of alternative scenarios, none of which makes happy reading. These include a trade war between Europe and America, and an alliance between terrorist organisations to attack the West. Most alarming of all, it raises the possibility of economic stagnation, followed by America abdicating its role as the world's policeman.

At the same time tensions begin to grow in the Far East, where China orders Japan to dismantle its nuclear programme, leaving, the report says, no alternative but for "US re-engagement in Asia under adverse circumstances at the brink of a major war".

 

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