THOMAS FLICHY DE LA NEUVILLE | THE WEICHERT REPORT
First of all, why would 2030 surprise us?
In the United States (as in Europe), the need for instant results, combined with the preference for conceptual analyses, have brought about a real failure of foresight. Based almost exclusively upon statistical analyses, the works of anticipation have turned away from the future political and cultural changes, as if the liberal prophecy of a world pacified by the opening of borders would inevitably happen.
However, we must be aware that most declining civilizations are marked by the inability to foresee the dangers threatening them. Thus, when the Persian conqueror Shapur I entered the city of Antioch in 252 AD, he found the population carelessly gathered in the theatre. According to Ammianus, the actor on stage suddenly addressed the crowd, saying: “Is this a dream or are the Persians there?“ Turning their heads, the citizens of Antioch suddenly discovered the Sassanid archers who showered arrows unto them before setting the city on fire.
The sanction of intellectual blindness is sometimes painful.
Unable to see the world as it is, and imagining their downfall only in dreams, declining empires accumulate strategic errors. It is thus difficult for them to foresee what could happen within two decades. Besides, what prospective studies (if any), had only envisaged the fall of the Berlin Wall in the mid-1970s?
1 – What are your main criticisms towards The World in 2030 viewed by the CIA?
This report, whose key phrase is “the fog of transition,” has committed three major errors of assessment.
The first error concerns the projection of the democratic utopia on the world of 2030. The National Intelligence Report evokes the fanciful prospect of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation or the advent of moderate democratic governments in the Middle East. The contradictory concept of Islamic democracy appears repeatedly, as if these two realities could once blend.
The second error relates to the likely geo-economical developments: if the report rightly emphasizes the aging European and Japanese population, it never draws its consequences on the creative potential of these two geographical areas. Although we know that the average age of a population has a strong impact on its ability to innovate.
The third error relates to the evolution of Islam. Obviously the collusion between the United States and Saudi Arabia explain the fairy tale, distilled by the 2030 report about Islamic terrorism. Considered as a mere political movement, Islamism is promised to short-term dissolution.
2 – What diagnosis for France in 2030?
In 2030, France is still recovering from a major economic collapse. Poorly elected governments (with very low popularity), have long preferred the status quo to courageous reforms. Therefore, these governments have safeguarded comfort, the last privilege of the masses. The economic implosion spawns the fall of the dead elites, whose ranks are composed of technocrats unable to give a sense to existence in a time of collapse. The ruling classes thus experience the same evolution as the officer corps at the beginning of the 1914-1918 war: violence spawns a sudden reorganization.
In 2030 the failed state is placed under external financial supervision. The crypto-Republican state collapses whereas ethnic mutations accelerate under the shock of migrations.
3 – What about Europe?
In 2030, European competitiveness is at half-mast. Older European societies cultivate leisure as their sole purpose. Rivaled by Indian, Chinese, Russian, Iranian, Brazilian, Algerian or Mexican elites, European economic leaders carry on losing market shares. Having conditioned many export contracts to a significant transfer of technology, European industries are forced to excellence to retain a decisive advance.
The ousting of Greece from the euro area, and the subsequent collapse of the monetary unit brings about the loss of European assets placed in Athens. An unprecedented confidence crisis in the European currency occurs. Noting the failure of all political solutions, Europeans massively turn away from politics.
The democratic deficit of the European Union spawns populism and euro-skepticism. The necessity of border control, in order to prevent access to illegal Mediterranean migrations, becomes so strong that countries like Italy threaten to leave the Schengen Treaty.
The Baby Boomers are now in an extremely precarious situation: they have become increasingly dependent on younger generations.
Germany experiences spasmodic armed riots in its old industrial valleys between the Old Germans (Altdeutschen) and the self-directed Islamic regions.
Scotland has left the United Kingdom.
In Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish forces have been overwhelmed by the flows of migrants.
4 – Russia Remains an exception?
By 2030, Russia has strengthened its internal coherence by reviving its own identity: solidarity, indeterminacy, and the trend towards the absolute. Thanks to sweeping reforms finalized to the defense of a territory inherited from history, but of a much smaller size than Romanov Russia, it reconfigures itself defensively around the north-east passage.
The rise of maritime traffic in the Northeast route is the indirect consequence of global warming. The melting of Arctic sea ice enables the Russians to create Siberian exploitation bases of hydrocarbons and mineral deposits. Maritime transport in the Arctic Ocean has become very profitable to supply the Kara Sea bases or to get cheaper raw materials.
In Western Europe, the Russian cultural centers now select qualified asylum seekers and send the best ones to the University of St. Petersburg that welcomes carefully selected researchers. The contribution of these new migrants – which can be compared to the former Prussian or French Huguenots settlers – coupled with a rebound in the birth rate, enables Russia to reconnect with population growth. In 2030, the Russian Federation counts nearly 150 million souls.
By that time, Russia has managed to break the encirclement imagined by the US, thanks to the former Soviet republics lost to Washington. Ukraine has regained its place of matrix territory of the Slavic world, under the protection of Russia. Indeed, the active lobbying of countries like Greece, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria have influenced the bigger European States to take a more measured position vis-à-vis Russia, especially as many incidents have demonstrated the reality of the doctrinal foundations of the pretended democratic Ukrainian nationalism.
Abandoned by Washington on the one hand, and the European Union on the other, Ukraine experiences a severe economic crisis that forces it to accept a compromise with Russia. Yet if the situation in Russia seems stabilized in the West and in the Caucasus, it is facing a strong Chinese migration pressure in Siberia. In effect, hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers have crossed the Amur River to settle in Russia where their cheap labor force is exploited to reconstitute abandoned collective farms or develop the industry.
5 – Will the United States still dominate the world?
Marked brutally by imperial decline, the United States returns to its isolationist tradition. Exploiting their own oil and having lost interest in world affairs, America becomes disinterested in geopolitics and loses its place as the center of the world order. Unlimited quest for prosperity having hit a dead end, the United States experiences a religious revival, that insists upon the sacred character of the new promised land.
This isolationist withdrawal logically benefits to Americas competing powers. The Latino population now reaches 20% to 25% of the population of the United States. Spanish has become the first language spoken in the southern states. However, the implication of these changes should not be overstated. Like the barbarian kingdoms willing to perpetuate the Imperium Romanum, the majority of the newly American populations, will see themselves primarily as “American.”
6 – Has Brazil become a real competitor for the United States?
Brazil currently crystallizes the hopes – and fantasies – linked to an almost exponential growth. However, the difficulties Brazil currently faces, will only be exacerbated, and likely curb its dream of becoming a superpower. Indeed, the World Soccer Cup or the Brazil Olympics has not solved the problem of its most glaring social inequalities. The prestigious communication operations have not only proved ruinous, but have also mortgaged billions of euros that could have been invested into the reduction of poverty.
Insecurity in cities such as Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo is so high, that by 2030 very violent insurrections break out from the favelas, crippling Brazilian economic hope for a long period. The very tough repression of the riots by the police and the army endangers the reputation of Brazil. Terrorized by a climate of endemic violence, the tourism industry suddenly collapses. To curb the tensions, Brazil buys internal peace by developing its social system, which causes a sharp increase in public spending.
Moreover, massive corruption, waste and hazardous investments in operations designed to flatter Brazilian national pride, undermine its development prospects. Brazil experiences an outright recession after the explosion of the euro zone. The illusion of energy independence by the combination of the exploitation of its own petroleum reserves and production of agro-fuels reveals both an ecological and social disaster.
In effect, the intensive cultivation of sugarcane (ethanol) or soybeans (diesel) feeds vehicles to the detriment of its population (loss of vital crops usually reserved for food production was diverted to energy production, threatening the food supply). However, Brazil continues its international influence policy in the former colonies of the Portuguese empire (Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau), and tries to strengthen its position as regional leader in South America.
7 – Has an African middle class emerged?
The pages of Global Trends 2030 devoted to Africa, probably represent the most preposterous part of the National Intelligence Council report. References to Africa present hollow generalities on the emergence of the middle class, the difficulties of governance, or the demographic challenges of the continent, without saying a word on the revival of Islam or on ethnic tensions. The belief in the inevitable advent of democracy, according to a skewed pattern of the history of human societies results in laughable statements about the “democratic deficit” of African States and their “difficult transition from autocracy to democracy”.
In fact, by 2030, Africa will have discarded the legacy of European colonization for a long time. In 2030, the last infrastructures established by the former colonial powers will collapse. Africa will be poorer than ever: the exploitation of its resources won’t benefit its own population. Indeed, the new settlers, followers of an unscrupulous capitalism, will only reinvest the bare minimum on site (just enough to keep them safe).
New Africa will thus be comparable to a panther skin: small spots of wealth in a sea of poverty. The continent, more urbanized than today, will suffer more than ever from malnutrition. In effect, its agricultural or mineral wealth will be meticulously taken away. Periodically, riots will flare up in order to protest against rising food prices. Looters will attack bakeries and department stores. In Africa, agricultural productivity will remain low. Arable land will have indeed shrunk because of global warming and land grabbing for the production of exported biofuel.
To meet the growing arable land demand, some African states will not hesitate to transform buildings into irrigated fields. Perceived at first as a curiosity, these vertical urban areas will spread like wildfire in African cities. Millions of Nigerians will continue to pile up in huge megacities that produce nothing.
In South Africa, the climate of inter-ethnic violence will involve a permanent mobilization of the army. Once destined to a great future, the rainbow Republic will gradually sink into chaos.
8 – Will the Middle East still be at war you in 2030?
During the decade 2020-2030, the Middle East will be deeply destabilized by the new American isolationism. Having become less dependent on Saudi Arabia because of the exploitation of their own shale gas, the United States will let the country sink into chaos once the dollar has lost its function of global currency reserve. The support of the United States to Israel and Turkey will become increasingly discreet as American entrepreneurs invest again in Iran. Because of the vacuum left by the United States, the Middle East will undergo a profound reconfiguration.
In the north, Turkey, humiliated by the delaying tactics of the EU, will create its own competing model: the Turkic Union. Turkey hopes to regain geopolitical influence from the Mediterranean to the borders of China and Siberia.
In the South, the Arab States will divide and get poorer.
In the East, however, Iran will recover its central geopolitical role through a clever policy of balance between Turkey and India. Since the US diplomatic opening of 2013, Iran had been able to put an end to international sanctions. Thanks to its stability, the country will become one of the largest exporters of liquefied gas. For a long time, sanctions had left the field open to Chinese companies. But with the resumption of relations with the United States, Iran will have rebalanced its foreign relations without being plundered by one state or the other.
After 2025, Iran will open to the new Indian giant with which it shares very old cultural ties. The Iranian businessmen will have no difficulty in shifting from Persian to Hindi when negotiating with partners of the Indian Union.
9 – The dead dream of the great Indian democracy
In 2030, India has undoubtedly become the most populous country in the world. Its excess of 19 million people per year, enable the country to overtake China. However, the selective elimination of girls by abortion has had several consequences: first it has forced men to take women in the lower castes. At the bottom of the ladder has emerged a broad class of single men belonging to the lowest castes of India. These men must find a wife abroad. This brings about an increase of the forced migration of young women to India.
Indian vitality, less constrained than elsewhere by suicidal Malthusian policies, encourages innovation. By 2030, Hindu nationalism structures the Indian identity. The last vestiges of British and American cultural colonization have been erased. The political life of the country is organized around the slogan India to Hindus. This statement is particularly strong in the Hindi Belt and is accompanied by religious persecutions against Christians. The last remnants of the egalitarian discourse promoted by the West have disappeared because of its own decline.
Associated with chaos, democracy is presented as an absolute counter-model against the valuation of a social order supported by a hierarchy. In this context, the caste system now stands as one of the best safeguards of the social order. This regime is clearly the exact counter-model of a democratic society. But it now structures a Hindu society marked by repulsion, hierarchy and hereditary specialization. By reviving itself, India also revives its past. Its most serious handicap is not its rampant corruption but rather its renunciation of action; its aspiration to annihilation.
In 2030, the southern tip of the Indian triangle embodies the last remnants of a formerly globalized territory. This space, defined by its Dravidian population, stands up as the Indian Museum of the failure of globalization. The Dravidian island experiences a strong economic recession due to the growing divide between Dravidian and Indo-Iranian populations. A solution for these people is to migrate to Africa. Indeed, the lower classes of India have the potential to swell the Indian communities of East Africa. There, they reinvent the caste system. The untouchables thus become the new Brahmins of the black continent.
10 – China, a superpower in 2030?
Based on family solidarity, the Chinese civilization is seriously weakened in 2030 by its demographic problems. The one-child policy has indeed had disastrous consequences on the long-term. In 2030, China’s population reaches a peak of 1.44 billion. But China has experienced a stop in its rise. Indeed, beyond statistical analyses, nations are first driven by a spiritual principle. When these principles run out, civilizations can suddenly collapse.
Similar to Japan in the 1980s, for which analysts predicted a long hegemony but have later been astonished by its swift decline, China now stands out as a fragile power. Its military, economic and diplomatic successes have raised the US fears. However, the country’s development remains uneven.
Furthermore, its ecological and demographic policy does not invest in the future. An apparent competitor to the US in the race for naval supremacy in the 21st century, given these negative trends, China will likely return a quarter of a century later to its ontological isolationism.
Why would China conquer the world if it doesn’t need it?
In 2030, Chinese and American frigates of the 2010s, will rust together in the Turkish ports to be deconstructed and recycled. Meanwhile, riots will break out between Chinese and Indian immigrants in Australia. By that time, China will have offset its own decline by the introduction of an exclusive economic zone including Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. This Asian zone of prosperity will enable Korean the reunification. The old Korean border will meanwhile have become a wildlife reserve of primary importance, but still inaccessible to human beings because of mines.
11 – What about social change?
Contrary to what one might think, the spectacular development of social networks will confine individuals to their selected identities. The 2030s will therefore be marked by the return of tribalism. It will be defined by strong (and sometimes subversive) cultural values. On the web, the competition between the small but highly organized special interests to control the masses will intensify.
In the former developed countries, the consequences of the use of new communication on innovation will clearly appear: broken to pieces by the power of immediate messaging, time for individual creative thinking will become the exception. In this sense, the explosion of communication will further reduce any form of free thought. Within the crypto-democratic countries, the illusion of a government by the people will have shattered long ago.
Having been reduced to use violence in order to compensate their inability to diffuse creative emotions, dead bureaucratic elites will have given way to new leaders. More than ever, the need for political action in the long term, guided not by self-interested lobbyists, but by the common good, will be felt. This cultural and political revival already explains the current progression of a highly political religion like Islam in the sidereal void left by frenzied individualism.
In short, the dream distilled by the media of a future world in which the individuals would be freed by the opening of borders and the inevitable progress of democracy will appear very quickly as a fairy tale. Yet despite the disparate signals that can already be perceived now, prospective is not prophecy. Indeed, contrary to the illusion distilled by frozen religions, no future is ever written in advance.
The future remains open to the inflections of, determined and creative people.
An abridged version of this article appeared at The World Post in 2015 (CLICK HERE).
Thomas Flichy de La Neuville teaches geopolitics at France’s prestigious Saint-Cyr’s military academy. He has published numerous articles on international relations, some of which have been featured in The World Post. The study of which this essay is based upon, “2030, What the CIA Has Not Imagined” was published in 2015. Given how things have progressed in the 2 years since its publication, we at The Weichert Report believed it was necessary for Professor Neuville to republish his findings.