The Global Trends 2030 report depicts three hypothetical future worlds and examines their implications. Roughly put, in one the U.S. turns isolationist and major conflict breaks out in Asia. In another, the U.S. and China build a productive working relationship around which the global economy flourishes. In the third, global institutions falter and major powers become the focus of regional economic blocs, hindering the world economy and technological cooperation.

In each of these scenarios, Brazil is largely a passive player. It inherits a global political, economic, and security environment that derives from other players—particularly China and the United States—and events like an Asian pandemic or international armed conflict in the Middle East. The closest Brazil comes to playing an important role is one mention of a possible future in which Brazilian diplomacy brokers a peace-making agreement between China and the United States (and is rewarded, in return, a seat on the UN Security Council!).

I agree with this view, for two reasons: first, Brazil’s geographic isolation from the world’s key economic and geo-strategic zones; and two, Brazil’s lack of global presence—particularly in security affairs.

The original BRICs countries (I do not include South Africa, because it is included for political reasons, not because it appears destined to become an economic power) share several characteristics, especially market size. Brazil differs from the others, however, in a crucial way. China, India, and Russia are important to other large, influential countries not only because of their size but because they are territorially and economically involved in flash points of instability, countries and/or regions with troubles that affect core interests of powerful countries around the world. South America includes no such flash point. Naturally, this benefits Brazil because it faces relatively little interference from outside powers (the Cold War era being somewhat of an exception, though U.S. and Soviet interference was rather less severe than in East Asia, Afghanistan, or Germany). Brazil also needs not allocate resources and political attention to deter or respond to threats posed by heavily armed, nuclear capable neighbors.

Brazil’s isolation from the world’s critical chokepoints and hot spots is also a disadvantage, because it means Brazil is an important country in terms of economics and perhaps diplomacy, but not in terms of security. For other powers, Brazil is a good partner to have but not an essential one.

Brazil’s position on nuclear weapons reflects this conundrum. Brazil signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1997, a reasonable step considering Brazil faces no apparent threat to its territorial sovereignty that a nuclear weapon could be used against (i.e., no nation-state antagonist to be deterred). Critics of the decision point to India, claiming that India’s refusal to sign on to the NPT was a key reason why the U.S. under President George W. Bush announced its support for a seat for India on the UN Security Council, and in general why countries with far fewer resources and far smaller economies than Brazil’s—e.g., France, the UK, Israel, Pakistan—seem to  receive more respect and generosity from other powers than Brazil. Brazil has established a type of middle path. It has advanced nuclear capabilities which it uses for energy, industry, and military purposes (it aspires to build a nuclear-propulsion submarine over the next decade). It skirts and sometimes ignores its NPT obligations. But it does not go so far as to build or test a weapon, a step that could not help but destabilize its regional relations.

Another, related, factor that limits Brazil’s global presence and its influence is its lack of capacity and willingness to develop and use military capabilities beyond its borders. Unlike Asia or Europe, South America is a community of countries with low propensity for international conflict, and small militaries. The use of military might beyond a country’s borders is almost unheard of.

Brazil’s attitude is changing, somewhat. Brazil’s armed forces supported the UN’s peacekeeping mission in East Timor in 1999, and have supported and led the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. In 2011 the Brazilian navy led an UN-authorized multinational maritime force off the coast of Lebanon. Still, when compared to its BRIC rivals, and even against other “middle powers” like the UK, Canada, Australia, and South Korea, Brazil at present and at least for the next ten years (because it takes time to build a sea-going naval capability) has yet to involve itself in coalitions and actions that determine outcomes in faraway but strategically important regions. Brazil’s government shows an interest in building such a capacity, at least in terms of ships, aircraft, and other technologies—areas with obvious economic and industrial spillover effects. But investment lags in the equally difficult processes of military professionalization and modernization, such as the training and utilization of junior enlisted and non-commissioned officers.

One factor that could drive change in Brazil’s security capabilities is the rise of concern, across South America, over border and territorial control. The regional surge in drug trafficking—to major consumption markets within Brazil, in the U.S., and in Europe—has led to recognition that illegal armed groups regularly cross borders and operate in territories across There’s a promotion for everyone here at Ladbrokes Casino!If you’re new to Ladbrokes Casino, make sure that you check out our latest welcome no deposit bonus mobile es and promotions. the region. As long as this problem persists, there will be demand for more capable, mobile, and outwardly disposed security forces.

In the coming decades Brazil can certainly continue to gain international influence as an economic power, and a diplomatic actor, regardless of its involvement in security matters. But the more widely Brazilian people, companies, goods, and investments spread around the world, the more Brazilian leadership will perceive the benefits of having the capability to protect and serve them and the interests they create.

Despite these complications (and leaving aside Brazil’s medium-term reliance on China’s economy), Brazil is well-positioned to continue to rise as an important player on the global stage. The first blog discussed the long-term, positive prospects for Brazil of becoming an important exporter of both food and energy—an enviable position. From the point of view of resource abundance, especially when intensifying effects from global warming are considered, Brazil/Southern Cone stands with the United States/Canada, and Russia, as the regions best-equipped to serve as global providers of natural resources.

Brazil’s isolation from global hot spots is also advantageous, because Brazil is relatively protected from crises and armed conflict that could erupt in East or South Asia, or the Middle East, and engulf other powers with longstanding equities in those regions. Among the most provocative sentences I found in the GT2030 report is one that asserts that Brazil would benefit from major geopolitical tensions and a worldwide pandemic. As other powers succumb to economic crises and conflict, perhaps including de-industrialization as occurred in Europe and Japan after the last major war, they and the rest of the world may turn increasingly to the less-affected industries of Brazil and South America for their requirements. From a purely nationalistic viewpoint, one that imagines Brazil as competing with other countries for wealth and influence, this scenario of global turmoil and crisis offers Brazil its best chance for maximum advantage. Could it be that this type of long-term strategic thinking underlies Brasilia’s flirtation with rogue regimes like those of Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad?

Good fodder for speculation, but between today and 2030 what Brazilian leadership should focus on is strengthening various internal institutions and policies that underpin a democracy’s strength and vitality, including the judiciary, the education system, the defense ministry and the armed forces. For a country as large and rich in resources as Brazil, more efficient and reliable domestic institutions would go far to ensure its greatness. Foreign policy will come along.

– Ralph Espach, director of the Latin American Affairs Program at CNA

Brazil as a World Power Beyond 2030: Geographic, economic, and military dimensions

Three new contributions continue the discussion of the national security implications of urbanization:

In “Fighting in the New World: What Urbanization Means for Military Planners,” Janine Davidson of George Mason University explores the implications of the new urbanization for future war planning.

In “Military Operations as Urban Planning,” Michael Evans of the Australian Defence College makes the case for an interagency approach to future military operations in urban environments where the military works hand-in-hand with “urban planners, emergency services and policing.”

In “Urbanization, Security and Resiliency,” Nancy Brune of the Center for a New American Security argues that urban infrastructure planning, investments, and management should matter to national security experts.

When combined with yesterday’s contributions, these posts on urbanization and national security offer a series of provocative insights and suggestions that all strategists should consider.

By Drew Erdmann

The 2012 London Olympic Games will begin later this month. While the world will focus on sport, this Olympic Games also reminds us that the cities of the world are in constant competition as well. The history of 2012 London Olympic Games will be as much a story of the City of London’s effort to remain a leading, globalized city in the 21st Century as about the Gold Medal winners. We see this in the aspirations for the redevelopment of London’s East End to the “re-branding” of London as a global hub for commerce and services to innovations in reusable and environmentally friendly venue design. London’s success is by no means inevitable. The Economist recently described London as both “the world’s most international city” and “a precarious brilliance.” Other rising cities are challenging London and Western cities for economic, cultural, and political influence. Symbolically, the London Games follow the 2008 Beijing Games and precede the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Although costly, the Beijing Games introduced the new Asian superpower to many in the world, and the Rio Games will undoubtedly help mark Brazil’s rise on the global stage as well.

The competition among such cities will continue in the decades ahead. The overall “megatrend” of increasing urbanization is clear, i.e., the world is becoming more urbanized literally every day. The implications are less clear. The blog’s objective for this week, therefore, is to explore the urbanization trends that will help define humanity’s history in the next twenty years and their implications for economics, governance, and security. Cities like London, Beijing, and Rio will be important characters in this history. Perhaps even more important, however, will be the host of new urban centers that are rising rapidly throughout the developing world.

This week’s blog hopes to provoke discussion and raise questions as much as provide answers. And the blog will feature diverse contributors to help stimulate this discussion. Picking up on Steven Weber’s plea to readers from 2 weeks ago, please take advantage of the “leave a reply” link to contribute to the discussion. The more voices and points of view the better!

Here are six observations to help jumpstart this week’s discussion of urbanization.

First, the pace of this era’s urbanization is unprecedented and it is already one of the most important forces reshaping the world. A future historian will likely point to the year 2008 as a historic turning point – not only because of the Beijing Olympics, but also because 2008 marked thefirst year in humanity’s history when a majority of people lived in towns and cities. As Edward Glaeser’s recent The Triumph of the City (2011) underscores, cities are one of mankind’s greatest creations, the centers for innovation, the prime drivers of economic development, and, as such, they will continue to attract hundreds of millions of the world’s poor as they seek a better life. The scale and pace of this change is hard to grasp. Around 1.3 million people will migrate to cities and towns every week for the next two decades, according to United Nations statistics. Most of this movement will continue in emerging markets, but transnational flows will be important as well.

Second, urbanization is driving the rebalancing of global economic power toward emerging markets, especially in Asia. This movement of people is a major driver of the rapid economic growth experienced in countries around Asia as well as parts of Latin America and, increasingly, Sub-Saharan Africa. Just as the developed economies of the West did decades ago, emerging markets are now capturing the huge productivity gains that cities’ concentration, economies of scale, and innovation afford and that. The implications are profound. For the first time in over 200 years, the majority of the world’s economic growth during this decade will occur in emerging markets, not the developed economies of the “West.”

Third, urbanization and the rise of new middle classes are two sides of the same coin.Estimates suggest there will be by 2025 more than 1 billion new consumers with incomes sufficient to purchase consumer goods beyond those needed for subsistence. More than 95% of these new “middle class” consumers will live in emerging market cities. Likewise, the majority of new high-income households – with annual incomes of over $70,000 (in terms of Purchasing Power Parity) – will be found in emerging market cities. This massive increase in urban consumers will drive a corresponding increase in demand for a full range of products and services from home appliances to telecommunications to automobiles to recreation (e.g., dining out, travel). New middle class consumer demand in emerging cities will thus be a major force in the global economy. This demand will, in turn, reshape business strategies, supply chains, talent and capital flows, and potentially regulatory regimes.

Fourth, urbanization will place unprecedented strains on resources and societies. If the pace and scale of the new cities’ growth in population and wealth is staggering, the resources required are no less so. Infrastructure investments will need to soar to keep pace. The McKinsey Global Instituteestimates that new physical capital investments in cities will need to increase over $10 trillion per year by 2025. That is equivalent to more than the combined current economies of Japan and Germany! The demands on natural resources and the environment will also be historic in scale and scope. At the same time, because cities can be relatively efficient, increasing urbanization does afford opportunities for improved resource productivity as well.

Fifth, urbanization will stress governance at all levels – local, national, and international. This is a corollary to the preceding observation. For instance:

  • Local and national governments the world over will struggle to provide basic services to burgeoning urban populations while maintaining some reasonable fiscal boundaries.
  • New middle classes will make demands upon their governments. We will likely see new middle classes in some countries seeking to extend their economic clout to greater political influence. At the same time, there is no inevitable alignment of interests among middle classes across national boundaries (i.e., an “outsourced” American job may be a stepping stone to the middle class for someone in Asia).
  • The flow of peoples from countryside to cities, and between countries, will pose their own challenges for governance at all levels (see, for instance, the recent Global Trends 2030 Blog entries related to migration).
  • The vast resources required to sustain urbanization will not only influence global markets in important commodities, but also place new strains upon governments. Consider, for example, the challenge of water scarcity in China. Given current trends, some basins within China will remain in surplus in the coming 20 years, while others will likely confront significant gaps between supply and demand. How will the Chinese government manage its water resources across its different regions? Many other governments will face analogous resource dilemmas.
  • Increasing urbanization, combined with this era’s global interconnectivity, will challenge how individuals define their own identities. Will people think of themselves first as citizens of a particular city or a country or a transnational Diaspora community? Or, as Chrystia Freeland suggested in The Atlantic last year, will we see the rise of a “new global elite”? Such a cosmopolitan elite could live inside gated communities – whether in Florida or Rio or Johannesburg – and share common education, experiences, and values with others of the same jet set class, but little with “fellow citizens” of their respective countries of origin. This could be an era defined by struggles to reduce inequality.

Sixth, urbanization will challenge our traditional approaches and tools for national security.The 20th century experiences of the Second World War and the Cold War, for example, still heavily influence the United States’ diplomatic footprint, alliance relationships, and intelligence capabilities. The 21st century’s rise of new urban centers in the developing countries and concomitant shift in economic power are already challenging these institutional legacies. Alliance relationships will be redefined and new ones forged. New capabilities will be needed. Diplomats will need to be deployed in new cities and able to engage with new kinds of players. Militaries around the world will need to prepare to operate even more in urban environments.

In sum, how well leaders around the world in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors comprehend this new wave of urbanization, identify its manifold implications, and then adapt institutions, norms, and practices to harness its potential will have a profound impact on the trajectory of international development, peace, and security in the coming 20 years.

Drew Erdmann is Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Washington, DC office. He previously served with the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Council staff. The views expressed herein represent his personal views and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of any organization with which he is affiliated.