Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
Bruno Étienne argues cogently in this article that to think in terms of a clash of civilizations - Islam versus the West - is to make a serious error of judgement by ignoring the many non-religious factors that affect the relations between the Middle East and the West. In order to deal with this misunderstanding, he starts by setting out a clear definition of what he means by religion. He goes on to point out that politics and religion are often in competition, including in the Muslim world, and usually politics has the final say as to which strategy is adopted in international relations.
Bruno Étienne then ponders what kind of international system will emerge now that there is no longer a two-way split: will there be one Great Power or many? He notes that we are now faced with a "huge ideological shambles" and it would be too simplistic to describe it merely in religious terms when in fact the issues are clearly geostrategic: Europe and the United States have always wanted to (re)draw the map of the Middle East to suit their own interests. He also raises the current regional issues (e.g. the problem of Israel and Palestine, the Kurdish question, Iraq, water resources and oil reserves) and their possible impact on relations between the West and the Middle East.
Finally, Bruno Étienne focuses on the three countries competing for leadership in the Middle East: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, recalling along the way that "it is ignorance of the Other [that feeds] most of the fantasies, the prejudices and therefore the fears" .
Is it still possible to undertake foresight studies in the contemporary world, assessing its potential issues, challenges and developments? With the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 - enormous changes that nobody really foresaw - the question is worth asking.
Frédéric Charillon argues that it is not only possible but indeed necessary to give ourselves the means of trying to predict the future of international relations. Here he offers some tools for deciphering the situation of a sociological nature, criticizing the theory of the clash of civilizations as too simplistic. He first sets out the main issues that need to be considered when analysing tomorrow's world and the cleavages within it that they are likely to generate; he goes on to make a series of observations about the current international situation, highlighting the confusion of models, the ever more frequent abrupt changes, and increasing complexity of the world and how it is represented...
Hence the three main questions about the future of the world analysed by Frédéric Charillon: is there still some system for looking at the future and, if so, what is it? How do we set about understanding international situations if they cannot be explained? Is making culture the focus of the analysis really the best way of capturing the dynamics of the modern world?
Hence, too, the three sociological questions on which he ends: is it better to simplify the reality in order to be able to act or to attempt to understand the complexities before doing anything? Is it better - in both analysis and action - to go for sudden change or for continuity? Is it better to emphasize explanations in terms of the individual or the group?
Alioune Sall, Director of the African Futures Institute, looks at the key question of this special issue - the future of relations between civilizations at global level - from the African angle, a view too often forgotten in this debate.
In this article, he sets out the major challenges that Africa faces (coping with modernity, bloody conflicts, problems of governance, etc.) and emphasizes how far the West (in particular the former colonial powers) is responsible for the current difficulties of the continent. Nevertheless, contrary to the view that certain commentators sometimes express, he thinks that Africa has a future and one that does not involve a clash of civilizations, but rather a dialogue which will give rise to a new sort of modernity.
Invoking various African thinkers, Alioune Sall offers three main arguments in favour of this dialogue of cultures: pluralism and respect for diversity, a new kind of citizenship that is not based on being native-born, and the emergence of what he calls "afropolitanity" (in a sense marking a post-colonial phase of modernity in Africa). He does not underestimate the scale of the challenges (population growth, economic problems, governance, etc.), but bases his hopes on the coming together of a vision of values and a certain degree of political intervention that makes it possible to envisage Africa's future with optimism, against the background of a genuine dialogue with other cultures, and especially with the West.
This month Jean-François Drevet devotes his opinion piece on European affairs to the European Central Bank. Although there are still reservations, especially in France, about the Bank and about a common European currency, he argues that it is useful. He stresses, too, that the Euro "protects but does not energize" the economies of member countries, hence the need to make greater efforts to develop common economic policies.
This article argues that we need to develop foresight studies with a strong geopolitical element, although it also stresses the need, as a preliminary, to meet the challenge of finding a way of capturing the dynamics of the contemporary world situation which is as relevant as possible - a world that clearly no longer resembles the world of the past, heavily dominated as it was by the interaction of nation-states and above all by the Cold War with its head-on confrontation of two opposing blocs operating according to a common logic.
In the absence of an apposite system of representation, the approach offered by Samuel Huntington in his book on The Clash of Civilizations met with great success. The essence of Huntington's thesis is that the civilization paradigm is the best means of analysing, perhaps of anticipating, changes in international relations. The article sets out the main points of Huntington's thesis and then examines what led up to it and, in particular, what its basis and limitations are.
Nevertheless, Hugues de Jouvenel recognizes the need to acquire new tools for deciphering a world where there is a vast increase in global interdependency as well as in tensions and conflicts that should not be viewed solely in terms of differences in culture or civilization, even if these factors undoubtedly play a growing role.
Hugues de Jouvenel concludes by raising the issue of the sense of identity and of belonging to communities of more or less shared values and interests which operate according to models that are sometimes quite unlike those of the past when geopolitics was considered to be the exclusive domain of states and the relationships they forged with one another. He therefore argues that we should thoroughly overhaul our ways of looking at the world which will undoubtedly determine, as always, the way we perceive possible futures.
For this special issue on the future of relations between cultures, François Zabbal focuses on the relationship between the Arab/Muslim world and the West.
He starts by tracing how anti-Western sentiments grew up in the Arab world, first during the Cold War and the period of East/West tensions, then in the specific context of the aftermath of September 11th 2001. In particular, he shows that the roots of Arab hostility to the West (above all the United States) is not a recent phenomenon, and while it is true that such feelings have been strengthened in response to the way that the Islamic world is represented by the West, they also arise from the desire on the part of certain Arab communities to forge (or revive) some kind of pan-Arab bond.
However, according to François Zabbal, the pan-Arab movement came to nothing. Islamic sentiment is developing more as a statement of identity vis-à-vis the West, against a background of creating national or regional solidarities. It is nonetheless the case that a globalized Islam, sustained by modern means of communication and the Muslim diasporas living in Western receiving countries, may well continue to attract the poorest sections of the Muslim world, for better or worse. Let's hope, with François Zabbal, that the "wall of mutual misunderstanding" between Islam and the West is simply a passing tense moment, the prelude to a debate which may well be heated but which is also essential about the place and the shape of Islam in the West.
In this article, Michèle Tribalat examines the consequences of migration for inter-cultural relations in European receiving countries. As she stresses, "in most European societies, immigration has brought about a growing ethno-cultural and religious diversity that is now generating anxiety and discussion about national identity and cohesion". Yet this diversity is likely to increase, partly because of growing demand in the receiving countries (linked to the ageing of their populations), but partly for more political reasons (inflows that are hard to limit because of humanitarian considerations: asylum seekers, family members, etc.).
Michèle Tribalat goes on to discuss the difficulties arising from concentrations of people of foreign origin in the traditional immigration countries (France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, for example) - in particular a certain type of segregation that becomes greater over time and the impact that this may have in shaping the perception of minorities by the native-born population and the special demands made by communities of foreign origin. Finally, the author looks at the ways in which European countries respond, or try to respond, to this cultural diversity: as nationalist sentiments decline, it is less and less straightforward to establish workable policies on immigration (apart from those based solely on demographic factors), but it is nevertheless indispensable in order to avoid ever greater divisions within societies.
Georges Corm analyses, in this op-ed piece, what he calls "the binary vision" of the world in which East and West are opposed. He starts by arguing that the end of the Cold War has not brought an end to the hostility between different blocs that dominated the world between 1945 and 1990. In his view we now have two worlds - one pro-Western and favourable to Israel, the Euro-Atlantic bloc, the other more pro-Arab, the "Mediterranean/Asian" bloc - separated by a fracture line that gives rise to both cold (the Iranian nuclear issue) and hot wars (such as the Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan).
He argues that this new confrontation between "civilizations" arises from five main factors: the "war on terror" which he tries to analyse with a certain critical distance, especially with regard to the United States; a certain tendency to wish to dominate the rest of the world on the part of the United States that is not thwarted by its (somewhat naïve) European allies; a Mediterranean/Asian world whose capacity for harm tends to be overestimated, in particular because as a bloc it is far from being unified; the Israeli-Palestinian situation, which in practice now seems very hard to resolve (the creation of a Palestinian state appears impossible); lastly, the designation of Iran as a potential source of regional conflagration while at the same time the United States has deliberately let slip the opportunity to normalize relations with Iran.
With this view as his starting-point, Georges Corm sketches several possible scenarios for future geopolitical change; in general these are quite pessimistic, such as the hypothesis of all-out war between the Euro-Atlantic bloc and a coalition led by Iran with the more or less overt support of Russia and China. In order to avoid such a prospect, it is essential, Georges Corm argues, to dismantle the policy of forming blocs which threatens to reproduce the model of the two world wars; this requires, in particular, the rules of international law to be applied without exception as the only means of calming "inflamed imaginations".
Following its expansion to 27 members with the admission of Bulgaria and Rumania in January 2007, the European Union remains open to absorbing further new members, in particular Turkey - even though membership negotiations were suspended in 2006 because of the Cyprus problem. As is well known, the possibility of Turkey joining the EU has generated very mixed reactions from public opinion in some member states (including France), but what do the Turks feel?
Jean-François Drevet discusses the sources of the problems: domestic matters (democracy, rule of law, etc.) and foreign affairs issues (tensions with Greece, the Cyprus question, the Kurdish problem...). He stresses in particular that the Turkish government is perhaps not all that keen to join the EU, to judge from its resistance and reluctance to meet the criteria set by the existing member states. In contrast with previous negotiations (Mediterranean countries, Central and Eastern Europe), the Europeans must now deal with a country whose government, along with some of its people, is in no hurry to adapt to the European model. Perhaps it might be wise, the author argues, to allow Turkey to advance at its own pace before examining its possible suitability for entry.
The European Union has decided that electricity supply should be opened up to greater competition; in France the last phase will be reached in July 2007. However competition, which is supposed to bring about lower prices and improvements in the quality of service, threatens in fact to deliver none of these benefits, according to the honorary president of Électricité de France (EDF).
One reason for this is that the EDF's prices were already well below those in the rest of Europe because the firm has always been strictly managed; this factor has been much more important than the advantages which some consider that the EDF derives from its nuclear power plants. Another reason is that there are inevitable limits to competition because of the "natural monopolies" related to the distribution networks.
Lastly, Marcel Boiteux, arguing from the EDF's experience, warns us against the Brussels authorities' rather too blind faith in market forces. He demonstrates here, adducing specific examples, how naive it is to imagine that the best results are spontaneously achieved by the market alone. Along the way, he offers justifications for France's decision to rely on nuclear power and the investments made to that end; he points out that, while the EDF did indeed enjoy some state support, the state benefited much more.
Why have a European Op-Ed section in Futuribles?
The unforeseen events that occurred in Europe starting in 1989 have brought about great upheavals on the continent as the static situation after 1945 suddenly started to change at unprecedented speed. The rapid spread of the market economy, and to a lesser extent of democracy, in Eastern Europe radically altered diplomatic relations and generated a strong demand for international co-operation and for some degree of shared sovereignty.
This situation has brought with it new challenges for foresight studies. Whereas in the 1970s 1980s there was plenty of time to analyse what might happen in Europe, it is now necessary to keep ahead of the constantly changing scene in order to maintain both its role in exploring possibilities and the quality of its work.
These transformations are closely linked to the moves towards European unification: expansion of the European Union, development of as yet ill-defined policies towards its neighbours, and the first hesitant steps towards a common policy on security and defence.
Indeed, the role of EU institutions is often not properly appreciated since information about them tends to be limited, biased or incomprehensible. As recent debates have shown, this can sometimes result in serious failures to analyse situations correctly, which leads to erroneous assessments of the future of Europe and of the world in general.
For all these reasons, we have decided to include a new section in Futuribles which will examine aspects of current affairs in Europe that have a future-oriented dimension and could therefore be valuable for analyses of what is happening in France or other European nations. The intention is not to take the place of existing publications, nor even to comment on all the varied and complex events occurring in Europe, but rather to highlight some things that could help to promote a better understanding of possible future developments. The editor of the section will be Jean-François Drevet, a former civil servant with the European Commission; his views are obviously freely expressed and are his alone. The first article of this section deals with the Slovak opposition to a common position of the EU foreign and security policy on the independence of Kosovo.
The deterioration of the world's environment, and in particular the ever greater likelihood of global warming, is the subject of an increasing number of studies. But what is known about the environmental situation in Europe? Despite the political impasse that the European Union is currently in, what are the individual member states doing about the environment?
The EU's policy on the environment dates back to 1973, and is remarkable as one of the few areas where the member states appear to accept restrictive agreements unanimously and try afterwards to respect them. Furthermore, the activities of the European Environment Agency seem not to attract the criticisms levelled at most other EU institutions.
As Thierry Lavoux explains in this article, the EU's measures have made it possible to stop using both lead in petroleum products and chlorofluorocarbons. The latest challenge for the member states is to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases (especially by meeting the Kyoto criteria) at the same time that emissions generated by the transport and construction sectors are growing steadily.
In addition, he stresses, the member states need to be concerned by threats to their ecosystems from urban sprawl, massive use of pesticides and irrigation, and overfishing...
Lastly, says Thierry Lavoux, the EU members must quickly apply their minds to ways of making their agriculture more sustainable and limiting their production of toxic chemicals.
Le 4 mars 2007, la Chine a annoncé pour 2007 un budget militaire de 45 milliards de dollars, une augmentation de 17,8 % par rapport à 2006. La croissance spectaculaire du budget de la défense se poursuit depuis 10 ans et permet le renforcement quantitatif et qualitatif des forces armées chinoises. L'objectif affiché par les autorités d'un " développement pacifique " n'interdit pas de poser la question des intentions chinoises dans une situation internationale marquée par l'écrasante suprématie ...
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Le succès de l’ouvrage a étonné l’auteur. En effet, il s’agit avant tout d’une courte tentative de synthèse de beaucoup de ses travaux antérieurs, une sorte de rapport d’étape. La plupart des idées et analyses qui le composent ont été plus ou moins développées dans de précédents ouvrages de Jacques Attali (Histoires du temps ; Dictionnaire du XXIè siècle. Paris : Fayard, respectivement 1982 et 1998, etc.). Trois principes le guident lorsqu’il s’interroge sur l ...
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L'équipe du Laboratoire européen d'anticipation politique (LEAP) conduit depuis plus d'une décennie une analyse des tendances lourdes affectant la sphère linguistique dans l'Union européenne (UE). Ces anticipations sont porteuses de nombreuses conséquences quant à l'évolution politique de l'UE, puisque les langues ne sont pas des instruments neutres de communication mais bien les véhicules de visions du monde et de la société. Et à travers ces tendances d'avenir, on peut mieux cerner de plus ...
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Dans un article intitulé " Different Paths of Asian Giants ", publié par le Straits Times de Singapour, trois universitaires, Ramkishen S. Rajan (George Mason University), David A. Kelly (National University of Singapore) et Gillian H. L. Goh (National University of Singapore) reviennent sur les voies de la croissance telles qu'elles ont été empruntées par l'Inde et la Chine. Les chemins ont été différents mais se rejoignent aujourd'hui et les deux pays se mettent à l'école l'un ...
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Dans un rapport intitulé Asia's coming Water Wars, publié par The Power and Interest News Report, Chietigj Bajpaee, chercheur associé au Center for Strategic and International Studies de Washington D.C. attire l'attention sur le rôle de l'eau comme denrée stratégique et facteur croissant de conflictualité en Asie : au XXIe siècle, l'Asie pourrait émerger comme le nouveau foyer des conflits liés à l'eau
At the European Union summit in Lisbon in 2000, the member states committed themselves to making Europe "the most competitive and dynamic economy" in the world. Seven years later, there seems little chance of achieving this objective for research by 2010. By international standards, the EU is not doing well, and is still lagging behind countries like the USA and Japan, with regard to both the amount of investment in research and the results obtained; this is even more true of innovation.
One of the reasons for this poor showing is the lack of co-ordination of research at national, intergovernmental and EU levels, argues Pierre Papon. In order to improve this situation, it is urgent for member countries to increase their spending on research and for them to do more to develop Europe-wide research programmes by combining their efforts.
The priority given to research in Europe obviously influences the scale of scientific discoveries Europe makes and hence to some extent the EU's opportunities for innovation, says Pierre Papon, but also the image that its own residents and other nations have of the EU.
Le programme de recherche ESPON a publié en mai 2007 trois « scénarios pour le devenir du territoire européen » à l'horizon 2030 découlant des évolutions possibles des politiques de l'Europe à 27. Dans le scénario tendanciel (dans lequel les politiques européennes actuelles sont maintenues), un nombre croissant de régions européennes sont affectées par les conséquences négatives de la mondialisation, et seules certaines régions favorisées bénéficient de retombées positives. Ceci entraîne une redistribution de la population en Europe, qui se ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.