Global Insights: Charting the Global Future

Global Insights: Charting the Global Future

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) released Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World last week, with its avowed purpose to "stimulate strategic thinking about the future by identifying key trends, the factors that drive them, where they seem to be headed, and how they might interact." The release of the report was more specifically timed to inform the thinking of the incoming Barack Obama administration about the broader strategic challenges and opportunities it will confront upon assuming office on Jan. 20, 2009 -- and before officials of the new administration become overwhelmed by their daily inboxes.

The authors of Global Trends stress that their aim is not to predict what will happen or to offer their preferred vision of the future. Instead, they aspire to describe the key driving factors that will influence international developments during the next two decades. In fact, the NIC analysts clearly seek to help shape the future rather than simply describe it. By shedding light on important international trajectories, they hope to encourage U.S. and foreign policymakers to intervene in ways that promote the most benign outcomes and avoid the most adverse scenarios.

The NIC serves as a focal point for generating answers to broad strategic questions raised by senior U.S. policymakers. Its National Intelligence Officers (NIOs) and supporting staff solicit information and assessments from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as well as academic, private sector, and other nongovernmental experts. NIC products assess both current and possible future developments. The NIC is perhaps best known for its National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), which attempt to identify and delineate areas of consensus and disagreement within the U.S. intelligence community on major foreign policy issues (such as Iran's nuclear aims).

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