Last month I spent a couple of hours on the phone being interviewed for the next iteration of the National Intelligence Council's global futures project. This one imagines the world in 2030, and the interview was part of the organization's early polling process of experts around the world. I've participated similarly in previous iterations, and I've always found the NIC's questions fascinating for how they reveal the group's primary fears about the future.
That's not to say I dislike the NIC's global projections, because I do. They tend to lack the alarmist hype of most future scenarios generated by the Pentagon and various intelligence agencies. Nonetheless, while comprehensive and highly professional, the NIC's forecasts do tend to suffer from one major problem: Because it is part of the intelligence community, the NIC cannot possibly forecast dramatic changes in the United States, as that would simply be too politicized a judgment.
So the NIC's global futures reports tend to read like Shakespeare's "Hamlet," with the central character being the least interesting, least decisive and least capable of growing in response to events and the actions of others. The NIC's America always remains static, while the rest of the world is allowed to progress in all sort of interesting and intimidating ways.