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September 27, 2017 | by Steve Lawrence

Time for a Wake-Up Call

Global threats and the right people to meet them

If you are looking for both reassurance and hard-nosed caution about this country’s abilities to meet the multiple, fast moving, and dangerous global challenges ahead, you’ve got to listen to retired U.S Marine four star general John Allen. An honored battlefield leader and much sought after international strategic consultant, General Allen has been deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command and commander of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan among other distinguished posts.

He is a highlight of an extremely impressive lineup of speakers at this year’s Aluminum Products Division Conference, Nov. 13–14 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

About those ex-Generals in the White House. He regards the three who hold critical positions in the Trump administration with admiration and respect based on his administrative and combat experience with them. Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have all worked with Allen and fought along side him in Iraq.

“We have fought together. These men are great strategic thinkers,” Allen said in a pre-conference interview. “The Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser, they really do know what to do. They are very competent and more than once have restrained the U.S. and past presidents from doing stupid things.

“These guys have seen the elephant,” he said, referring to combat and war, “and they do not want to see it anymore.” The president has hired some gutsy guys here,” the General said. “Guys who can make him and this country successful if anyone can.”

That’s the reassuring part. The rest of General Allen’s conference keynote may be somewhat less so. He will talk about the national security and international economic challenges posed by “today’s dangerous four plus one.” The four being Russia, Iran, China and North Korea. The plus one is international terrorism. His take on these will be eye-opening, if not insomnia-inducing to say the least.

For the rest of his wake up call, General Allen will also examine “five mega trends, that are shaping the world ahead and coming at us like a freight train.” These are the forces that will shift the dynamics of economic progress, the well-being of the earth’s citizens and the business and social climates of every country on the planet.

They include a massive shift of economic power from the West to the East, the dramatic aging of populations in developed countries in stark contrast to a “youth bulge” in the developing world, rapid urbanization and the rise of “feral cities” governed by sophisticated transnational criminal networks. Technology and the exponential potential of artificial intelligence, the good and the security challenges it poses, is the fourth mega-trend.

“But it is the fifth that scares me the most,” General Allen said. “That is increasing resource scarcity and climate change, as water dries up on the planet leading to the growth of deserts and the concentration of populations in potentially ungovernable mega cities.”

You cannot afford to miss General John Allen’s powerful talk and the opportunity to ask him questions about all of this and more at this year’s Aluminum Products Division Conference.