One other area where the draft GT 2030 could go into greater depth is in analyzing the effect of ideas вЂ” the isms that can be motivators of collective action and accelerants to global change. В AmericaвЂ™s global role is inextricably linked to the influence of ideas. В AmericaвЂ™s global influence turns on its soft power as well as its hard power.
The United States does not confront an ideological enemy with the resources and global appeal that Communism enjoyed at the height of the Cold War, but there are contending isms ranging from militant islamism to authoritarian crony-capitalism (or whatever label one would assign to the middle way approach China and Russia appear to be trying to forge).
The past decade of kinetic war has been directed at the threat from militant islamism, and it is striking how optimistic GT 2030 is about how that contest will unfold in the coming decades. В I think GT 2030 may be too optimistic, perhaps reflecting the difficulty the Intelligence Community has grappling with religious-based movements.
But I agree that the U.S. has the ideological advantage in the long run. Many aspects of American/Western ideology seem destined to subvert the appeal of militant islamism, such as feminism or respect for individual liberty.
Yet I would single out for special consideration religious toleration. В It took the West a long time, too long, to figure this out but after centuries of bloody warfare the West (and especially the United States) has done it. В We have figured out how to be both religiously fervent AND tolerant of other religiously fervent people (provided they are not using coercive means against others). Tolerance does not require abandoning religious, even exclusive religious convictions. В Religious toleration implies believing your religious position to be superior to others вЂ” you are right, they are wrong вЂ” but it does so in a way that lets them be вЂњwrong.вЂќ В It preserves space for proselytizing вЂ” there cannot be true toleration if you deny faiths the opportunity to вЂњcompeteвЂќ by trying to persuade/convert others. В But it is proselytizing through the marketplace of ideas, not through the barrel of a gun.
This form of religious toleration is anathema to militant islamists and yet should have a wide appeal for most everyone else. В It is thus quite subversive to others and props up U.S. power.
Perhaps that topic is too delicate for the IC to touch, but with religious revivals spreading across much of sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, and East Asia, it seems too important to ignore.