Global Forecast 2011: International Security in a Time of Uncertainty
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High levels of criminality in countries such as Nigeria and Jamaica are harder to combat.
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Growing, transporting and selling drugs become more attractive as opportunities in the legitimate economy are impaired. There are a range of positive indicators for reduction in conflict and battle deaths since the s, and especially since the end of the Cold War.
Significant credit was given to the relative effectiveness of peace-keeping and peace-making since end of Cold War, albeit with much room for improvement. There is also reason for pessimism. Conflicts to which a government is a party have been multiplying in the last five years.
Conflicts are becoming more intractable. Values-based conflicts are the most intractable. Those centred on practical issues, such as access to water, have proven more amenable to co-operative solutions. Many countries, because of their national debts, are less able to contribute foreign aid to partners abroad, less able to support expanded diplomatic representation abroad, and have to consider carefully the considerable costs of military interventions. Today a lack of financial capacity will not only have an impact on the United States, but on its allies as well.
Recipient countries, already suffering from diminished economic activity, face a declining ability of foreign donors to provide foreign aid or other support. Economic problems cause a growth in state power, which in turn increases the likelihood of state-to-state conflict. When the state uses wealth generation to undertake some social redistribution, this promotes long-term stability.
Water Security in an Uncertain Future: Enhancing Water Resources Management...
Asian countries tend to generate wealth without active redistribution: could this become a source of vulnerability in the future? Although some of the most dynamic Asian economies have witnessed a relatively balanced distribution of income occurring naturally, China and Russia are likely sensitive spots—one an emerging power, the other with bleaker economic prospects. For hints of trouble, observers might turn their gaze to where state power has grown but social welfare has not.
Countries without a sufficient economic base to employ their own populations, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, benefit from substantial remittances from workers employed overseas. The reduction of economic activity in host countries has a direct impact on those receiving the remittance payments.
Pakistan has a large number of workers in the United Arab Emirates. Workers in these circumstances may return to their home country, or stay in the host country because they fear if they leave they cannot return. In either case they are unemployed and a possible source of unrest. Overall, migration is expected to be a growing, even more integral part of the global economy, although it has been affected by the economic turmoil.
Global Forecast 2011: International Security in a Time of Uncertainty
The downturn reduced the flow of migrants, and led to substantial returns of migrants to their countries of origin, though less than expected. Indeed, a large number of irregular migrants did not move back to their country of origin, but stayed where they were without employment, exacerbating the potential for exploitation and poor labour conditions.
Large numbers of irregular migrants can strain state capacity to safeguard public health, deter crime, and guarantee border security. This diminishes public confidence in government; particularly, the presence of a large migrant labour pool threatens the job prospects for residents. These issues will increase in seriousness as global labour market flows increase to meet labour market needs in advanced economies, in the absence of legitimate global mechanisms to match labour supply and demand.
Given increasing future demands for labour in countries with ageing populations, such governance and social cohesion problems may only worsen without more legitimate global mechanisms to match labour supply and demand. Globalisation has benefitted illegal as much as as legal enterprises, but in an era of fiscally handicapped governments, the tools to fight organised crime are harder to pay for.
Poorer governments face difficulty paying officials at a rate which will defeat corruption and have fewer resources for police and military to respond directly to criminal activity. Major international cities are also major crime centres. Not all areas of criminal behaviour prosper during difficult economic times, but some core activities, such as illegal drugs, seem to sustain a high level of demand. As some criminal activity becomes extremely sophisticated, such as Internet fraud and illicit entry into databases, criminality attracts the well-educated and technically sophisticated.
Because of the nature of the Internet, detection and prosecution is challenging, so some of this activity appears to be low-risk for the high-tech recruits. An economic downturn also gives organised crime the opportunity to buy into the legitimate economy, which increases the threat of illegal behaviour and business crime, and ultimately of political corruption.
Water Scarcity: The Most Understated Global Security Risk
Further, with fewer opportunities for legitimate jobs, significant populations will turn to the underground economy. Where there are limited opportunities in the underground but licit economy e. Even with large-scale economic downturns, many experts stressed that observers should not necessarily expect spikes in crime, organised or otherwise. Instead, what is more common is to see shifts in manifestations of criminality. In many cases, property crime actually goes down during a recession, perhaps because with more people out of work, there are fewer empty houses to burgle.
At the same time, domestic abuse is expected to rise. With respect to organised crime, which is generally plagued with measurement difficulties, what evidence we do have shows more changes in pattern than size — but these changes can have significant long-term consequences. With desperate banks, and fewer opportunities for criminals to launder money, and with individuals and companies desperate for sources of credit, there can be greater infiltration of the banking system and licit businesses by organised crime groups. The observations above are in part descriptions of actual manifestations of the economic turmoil, and speculations on others which could occur in the longer term.
What number of factors could heighten the negative consequences for security of the financial crisis? A repeat One of the most difficult but vital debates is about whether government has to be re-assigned many of the authorities it once had to prevent reckless risk-taking in the marketplace. If there is no reform, and there is a repeat in some form of the recent crisis, then all of the dangers that are currently present would be intensified.
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Reaching a consensus on what steps need to be taken will not be easy, neither in the fractious U. Downturn in the U. Since there are still default-prone mortgage loans in the U. The AQ narrative Al Qaida will likely internalise further the consequences of the financial turmoil into its anti-American narrative.
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Since the latter is already anchored in the ruthless exploitation of Islamic societies by western powers, it is not hard to imagine the addition of critiques reinforcing the image of western materialism, selfishness and subservience to financial interests. Anti-globalisation narrative The financial crisis might spark a renewed or intensified anti-globalisation protest. Since some aspects of the crisis could easily be interpreted to validate some elements of the anti-globalisation critique, it is possible that anti-globalisation protests will emerge in a new and more virulent form.
Financial institutions are a more diffuse target than companies or G-7 meetings, but a possible focus for future protests could be international meetings looking at necessary reforms, particularly if conflicting national interests make it difficult to achieve progress. Deteriorating environmental conditions Global warming bears no relation to the financial crisis, but it will be harder for governments to make necessary mitigation investments when resources are limited, and the impacts of global warming will be harder on poor populations already in difficulty because of the impacts of the recession.
In the immediate aftermath of the global economic downturn, some of the systemic consequences of the crisis have become apparent. However, it is more difficult to speculate on the future security threat environment and forecast specific possibilities. There has been a decline in the ability of the United States and some of its allies to exercise moral leadership and to allocate hard power and resources in the form of military and humanitarian aid.
The rise of a more wealthy and ambitious China may make an international consensus in crisis situations more difficult to achieve. Whether this shift in influence is minor or long-term and critical depends on the future course of the economic recovery.
The recession has led to a diminished capacity in many countries vulnerable to terrorist recruitment to employ the male youth population. Similarly, criminal activity will be more attractive in some countries than before, and to some skilled workers not previously seen as inclined to accept employment in the illicit economy. It is possible that the impact of the recession on security will be minimal, but that is unlikely since there are already changes in the relative political influence of major countries.
The destruction of billions in shareholder value and the increased indebtedness of governments are certain to have consequences for where and how money is invested and spent. One possibility, perhaps the best case, is that the impact on global security will be incremental and not revolutionary. The anti-western narratives will be more trenchant and more credible, and novices will continue to join in as terrorists, suicide bombers and criminals. But the future world will be recognisable as an extension of the present, coloured in a slightly darker shade as a result of the cumulative effect of the changing global economic, political and social conditions.
An immediate danger is a loss of the ability of the international community to collectively address pressing global problems, a capacity which is already under severe strain. The collective response to the recession itself is encouraging. A series of workshops, such as those that are the source of this report, are in part exploratory and they do not in themselves produce an integrated story or suggest next steps. Many of the themes in this report require further discussion and elaboration. Still, the opportunity to think about future possibilities with such a diverse group of global experts is rare, and the potential needs to be fully developed.
A useful next step would be to elaborate a series of warning indicators which would help signal whether the ultimate consequence of the crisis is likely to be a variation of the present, or a dramatic and dangerous recasting of our world. You will not receive a reply.
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