Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project
At no time since the formation of the Western alliance system in 1949 have the shape and nature of international alignments been in such a state of flux. The end of the Cold War shifted the tectonic plates, but the repercussions from these momentous events are still unfolding. Emerging powers in Asia, retrenchment in Eurasia, a roiling Middle East, and transatlantic divisions are among the issues that have only come to a head in recent years. The very magnitude and speed of change resulting from a globalizing world—apart from its precise character—will be a defining feature of the world out to 2020. Other significant characteristics include: the rise of new powers, new challenges to governance, and a more pervasive sense of insecurity, including terrorism. As we map the future, the prospects for increasing global prosperity and the limited likelihood of great power conflict provide an overall favorable environment for coping with what are otherwise daunting challenges. The role of the United States will be an important variable in how the world is shaped, influencing the path that states and
nonstate actors choose to follow.