Shadow Government

What should Global Trends 2030 say about the role of the United States?

One of the more interesting analytical products put out by the intelligence community (IC) is the Global Trends series, a quadrennial look-ahead that sketches how the world might look some 15-plus years hence. The IC is currently working on Global Trends 2030, which will be officially published after the U.S. election in November. Right after ...

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

One of the more interesting analytical products put out by the intelligence community (IC) is the Global Trends series, a quadrennial look-ahead that sketches how the world might look some 15-plus years hence. The IC is currently working on Global Trends 2030, which will be officially published after the U.S. election in November. Right after the 2008 election, the IC released Global Trends 2025 and so on back to the first edition published in 1996-97.

The lead author for the current cycle, Mat Burrows, has taken a draft version of Global Trends 2030 out on the road for numerous off-Broadway reviews. I have been invited to multiple murder-boards, which involve the usual suspects of American national security strategists each offering comments big and small. (I had some more substantive comments, but I confess I delighted in beginning my remarks at one recent session by identifying a couple of typos. I told Mat, who has to be one of the more gracious and long-suffering souls in the business, that it takes a special kind of internal fortitude to listen to so many people criticize your work and offer "helpful suggestions.")

What makes this review process unique, however, is that the IC literally spans the globe for feedback. Burrows has briefed the draft around the world to audiences of international strategists and I suspect the feedback he has gotten in those sessions would make up a fascinating analytic product all by itself.

The IC also wants feedback from the attentive public, and here is your chance to provide it. They have set up a website where the various themes can be debated. Each week this summer, a different think-tank will guest host a blog in order to further the public conversation. This week, my home organizations — Duke’s American Grand Strategy Program and the Triangle Institute for Security Studies — will be hosting the blog. Our theme is "the role of the United States in 2030." This happens to be the first iteration of Global Trends that explicitly considers the role of the United States and so this aspect of the report is of special importance.

Perhaps you could drop by and weigh in…

Peter D. Feaver is a professor of political science and public policy and Bass Fellow at Duke University, and director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy. He is co-editor of Elephants in the Room.

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