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Using intelligence to shape the future

Anticipating Opportunities: Using Intelligence to Shape the Future
"We spend $45 billion annually to reduce uncertainty, to help us combat threats to our nation, our people, and our security," said Payne Distinguished Lecturer Thomas Fingar in his third Payne lecture on October 21, devoted to anticipating the future -- "not for purposes of prediction but for purposes of shaping it."  Noting that strategic intelligence treats the future neither as "inevitable or immutable," Fingar employed real-life examples from his career in national intelligence (most recently as deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the National Intelligence Council) to explore concrete ways intelligence can be used to move developments in a more favorable direction.

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World examined the trends which will "drive, shape and constrain" individuals, governments, and nations around the world. Among prominent trends, he cited globalization, which will provide unprecedented prosperity but greater inequality; the rise of the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India, and China; the rise of new powers such as Indonesia, Turkey, and Iran; and the coming demographic boom, which will add 1.2 billion people to the world, with less than 3 percent of that occurring in the West.

The Geopolitical Implications of Climate Change.  Instructed by the Congress to provide an assessment of the impact of global climate change, given controversy about the imminence of the threat and man's role in it, the NIC studied which regions and countries would be most dramatically affected by climate change, with a focus on water, food production, and changes in weather patterns. The results remain classified, because of the potential impact on vulnerable countries. 

The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities. This estimate, attacked from both the right and the left, concluded with a moderate to high degree of confidence that Iran had not obtained sufficient fissile material from external sources (to make a bomb) and that its fastest route to produce a nuclear weapon would be through domestic production of enriched uranium. The NIE also judged that Iran had halted the weaponization portions of its nuclear program in 2003, but had retained the option to pursue a weapon and whether to do so was a "political decision" which could be made at any time.