Editor’s note: We have been monitoring “behind the scenes” the US Dollar Supremacy and the challenges it faces over the last couple of years. Indications show that it is now time to move towards strategic foresight analysis of the issue. This series results from this need and our in-depth analysis will constitute the building blocks for scenario …
The world has entered a period where uncertainty rules and where surprises abound.
Focusing on 2016, the two major surprises usually singled out are the Brexit or the vote leading to the exit of the U.K. from the European Union, then the election of U.S. President Trump against favourite Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Even though a short-term focus could let us believe that the turmoil only or mainly hits “the West”, political and geopolitical surprises and uncertainties have multiplied worldwide, starting at least with the shock of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 and responses to it (see end note for some major instances*).
What is thus happening? How are we to tackle the uncertainty? Are these surprises related or discrete independent events that it would be wrong to link or try to understand together?
We shall start here with the 2016 surprises and related ongoing uncertainty, i.e. the Brexit and the U.S. Trump Presidency, and focus more particularly on the contradictions and questions that arise when we compare the two phenomena. We shall seek a framework for and elements of understanding, which can then be used in the development of scenarios for the future.
Editorial – Horizon scanning for national and international security – What appears as most amazing this week is a perception of an accelerating American decline on the world stage. A few months ago, we warned that changes related to the dollar supremacy were in the making, even if they would, most probably, need a relatively long time before …
Horizon Scanning for National Security No93 – Are political authorities back? Many high-tech and cyber related signals emerged this week, from the massive DDoS attack to digital arm trade, right to kill hackers, DNA computing, quantum technology or space entrepreneurs, besides the possibility of renewed attacks by “climato-skeptics,” when scientists wonder if the frozen spring could be linked to a slower gulf stream, and when political impacts of natural catastrophes start being studies more consistently. Meanwhile, the Syrian quagmire deepens, progressively dragging the region in, and tensions in Northeast Asia heighten. And at the core…
Horizon Scanning for National Security No92 – Global Experiment and Fog of Transition: Those two labels – the first borrowed from Paul Krugman’s now famous interview, and the second from Global Trends 2030, among others, itself adapted from von Clausewitz’s fog of war – seem to describe most aptly the current period, and the short (to medium?) term future.
Horizon Scanning for National Security No90: Some Light within Darkness – For a change, let us focus on the positive (within the multiple remaining and rising challenges): climate change and environmental factors emerge this week as being increasingly integrated within our understanding of the complex dynamics at work in conflicts and more broadly threats or dangers to national security. Is the painting depicted scarier? Certainly, but understanding is also a crucial step towards solving properly problems… hopefully.
Horizon Scanning for National security No89 – Look East: Indicators are turning red! The possibility of war – between China and Japan… and the US (security treaties can also have an escalating effect) and ? – is now very much on the agenda, despite all wishful thinking and previous disbelief. The dire financial situation of Japan, which everyone tries so hard to ignore, while US potential sequestration shockwaves nears and Europe polarizes, are not the most stabilizing context and factors. We had a window of opportunity, at the beginning of February, it closed. Shall we see another opening up of “the funnel of choices” (Nye, 1993: 68-69)?
Horizon Scanning for National Security – No82 – On relativity: If, for example, we believe that Greece will be in the G20 in 7 years or that we are at the end of the economic crisis, notably in Europe, that “new oil” developments and use of coal are very positive, then, Australia’s heat index or European unemployment figures or Basel’s new liquidity rule might be (only “might” of course) weak signals that something is amiss… if we don’t believe the initial statements then those indications are strong signals of escalation, among so many others.
As expected last week the situation in Egypt did not stabilize and many other issues escalate. Also, of particular interest this week as weak signal, we find the importance of religion in times of hardship, when all hopes seem to be lost. Considering the power of mobilisation and radicalisation of religion, this factor is to be kept in mind.