The National Intelligence Council Paints a Grim Future of ‘Disruption’

The National Intelligence Council Paints a Grim Future of ‘Disruption’
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency and Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Washington D.C., Jan. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Most of the policy shops and intelligence agencies in the U.S. government focus on near-term threats or issues, reflecting the time horizon of elected officials who often have little interest in events beyond the next election. But long-term thinking, as senior intelligence officer Gregory Treverton noted, “is critical to framing strategy.”

For this reason there are a few government agencies designed specifically to peer deep into the future. The Pentagon, for instance, has its small Office of Net Assessment. The intelligence community has what is called the National Intelligence Council (NIC).

Every four years, the NIC’s Strategic Futures Group publishes a major assessment of the forces and trends shaping the world. This week marked the release of its sixth such report, “The Paradaox of Power.” Like the ones before it, the report is a broad-brush picture of what America’s intelligence experts expect in coming decades. What distinguishes this new report from earlier ones is its pessimism: The future that it paints is a grim one.

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