Global Futures Report: Alternative Futures of Geopolitical Competition in a Post-Covid-19 World
The COVID-19 pandemic sheds an important light on the criticality of futures-based thinking to move us beyond conventional assumptions and positions. In today’s chaotic cycle of rapid change, growing complexity, and radical uncertainty, the national security establishment must develop the skills and flexibility to adapt to the unexpected. To be sure, the fallout from COVID-19 has revealed overlooked vulnerabilities for our supply chains, our society, our economy, and—most pertinent for this report— our national security strategy, which relies on all three. The primary aim of this report is to disrupt how we conceptualize national security futures. Rather than arrive at “definitive” conclusions or prescribe budgetary, policy, or force structure recommendations, this document instead challenges us to consider how the future can defy accepted probabilities to affect the Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force.
The report develops four overarching, global scenarios that feature transformation, collapse, discipline, and continued growth outcomes. These global scenarios do not represent the most probable or likely outcomes—rather, the report harnesses emerging weak signals from environmental scanning analysis (that likely seem improbable today) and weaves them into the possible futures of a post-COVID world.