We’re liveblogging from James R. Clapper’s talk at the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre, as he reflects on 50 years of United States intelligence and his time as Obama’s Former Director of National Intelligence.
“Thinking about the future is hard, but vital,” Clapper starts. “Crises and drama keep intruding, making it all but impossible to look beyond daily headlines … we inevitably get consumed with the urgent, at the expense of the important.”
Clapper outlines three things he’ll go over this afternoon:
1. He will review seven key global trends out to about the year 2035 — about population, economy, technology, ideology, governance, conflict, and the interrelated cluster of climate change, environment and disease.
2. He'll go on to get specific with this region, and talk about a five-year timeframe for key challenges posed by Russia, China, North Korea and terrorism.
3. He will finish discussing the implications of these for the planet, and for Australia.
“I do need to state that what I say here does not represent the official, coordinated view of the U.S. Intelligence Community, or U.S Government policy." He pauses. After a telling deep breath, he continues "Oh, it is so very liberating to be free.” The audience laughs.
Clapper says that the rich are ageing and the poor are not. “The countries with chronically young populations will continue to be a challenge for places like the Middle East. These are the same areas where education levels are the lowest, a toxic combination that is fertile for violent extremism.” He interjects. “By the way, global GDP could rise by more than ten per cent by 2035 if the roles and relative compensation for women were equitable.”
Clapper says that people are indeed on the move, escaping poverty, war and the effects of climate change. “International migrants reached the highest levels ever recorded in 2015, with 244 million migrants, 65 million of which are displaced; in other words, one of every 112 persons in the world is either a refugee, an internally displaced person, or an asylum seeker.” Clapper predicts this trend is "not likely to abate."