The World in 2016: Opportunities and Risks

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We humans are fond of organizing our lives around arbitrary constructs. Like calendars for example. Many businesses and government departments engage in strategic thinking only at the start of a new year, as if social and economic forces were governed by calendrical functions. And so we have the tradition of forecasts for the coming year. Experts try to predict what might go wrong in the next 12 months, and it is almost always what can go wrong. Rare is the national security maven who delights in providing advance notice of all the good outcomes that await us.

Veteran intelligence analysts like me demur at predicting the future. In fact, the phrase “future predictions” is PNG’ed from most intelligence work. You often hear phrases like:

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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