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Sun Sets on US Power: Report Predicts End of Dominance

 
 
Reply Fri 21 Nov, 2008 09:20 am
Quote:

Thursday 20 November 2008
by: Julian Borger, The Guardian UK

US intelligence: "We can no longer call shots alone."
European Union will be "hobbled giant" by 2025.
Triumph of western democracy not certain.

The country Obama inherits, the report warns, will no longer be able to 'call the shots' alone in an increasingly multipolar world.

'It's a multi-polar world with much more uncertainty' Link to this audio The United States' leading intelligence organisation has warned that the world is entering an increasingly unstable and unpredictable period in which the advance of western-style democracy is no longer assured, and some states are in danger of being "taken over and run by criminal networks".
The global trends review, produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) every four years, represents sobering reading in Barack Obama's intray as he prepares to take office in January. The country he inherits, the report warns, will no longer be able to "call the shots" alone, as its power over an increasingly multipolar world begins to wane.

Looking ahead to 2025, the NIC (which coordinates analysis from all the US intelligence agencies), foresees a fragmented world, where conflict over scarce resources is on the rise, poorly contained by "ramshackle" international institutions, while nuclear proliferation, particularly in the Middle East, and even nuclear conflict grow more likely.

"Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed" warns that the spread of western democratic capitalism cannot be taken for granted, as it was by George Bush and America's neoconservatives.

"No single outcome seems preordained: the Western model of economic liberalism, democracy and secularism, for example, which many assumed to be inevitable, may lose its lustre - at least in the medium term," the report warns.

It adds: "Today wealth is moving not just from West to East but is concentrating more under state control," giving the examples of China and Russia.

"In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the state's role in the economy may be gaining more appeal throughout the world."
At the same time, the US will become "less dominant" in the world - no longer the unrivalled superpower it has been since the end of the Cold War, but a "first among equals" in a more fluid and evenly balanced world, making the unilateralism of the Bush era no longer tenable.

The report predicts that over the next two decades "the multiplicity of influential actors and distrust of vast power means less room for the US to call the shots without the support of strong partnerships."

It is a conclusion that meshes with president elect Obama's stated preference for multilateralism, but the NIC findings suggest that as the years go by it could be harder for Washington to put together "coalitions of the willing" to pursue its agenda.

International organisations, like the UN, seem ill-prepared to fill the vacuum left by receding American power, at a time of multiple potential crises driven by climate change the increasing scarcity of resources like oil, food and water. Those institutions "appear incapable of rising to the challenges without concerted efforts from their leaders" it says.

In an unusually graphic illustration of a possible future, the report presents an imaginary "presidential diary entry" from October 1, 2020, that recounts a devastating hurricane, fuelled by global warming, hitting New York in the middle of the UN's annual general assembly.

"I guess we had it coming, but it was a rude shock," the unnamed president writes. "Some of the scenes were like the stuff from the World War II newsreels, only this time it was not Europe but Manhattan. Those images of the US aircraft carriers and transport ships evacuating thousands in the wake of the flooding still stick in my mind."

As he flies off for an improvised UN reception on board an aircraft carrier, the imaginary future president admits: "The cumulation of disasters, permafrost melting, lower agricultural yields, growing health problems, and the like are taking a terrible toll, much greater than we anticipated 20 years ago."

The last time the NIC published its quadrennial glimpse into the future was December 2004. President Bush had just been re-elected and was preparing his triumphal second inauguration that was to mark the high-water mark for neoconservatism. That report matched the mood of the times.

It was called Mapping the Global Future, and looked forward as far as 2020 when it projected "continued US dominance, positing that most major powers have forsaken the idea of balancing the US".

That confidence is entirely lacking from this far more sober assessment. Also gone is the belief that oil and gas supplies "in the ground" were "sufficient to meet global demand". The new report views a transition to cleaner fuels as inevitable. It is just the speed that is in question.
The NIC believes it is most likely that technology will lag behind the depletion of oil and gas reserves. A sudden transition, however, will bring problems of its own, creating instability in the Gulf and Russia.

While emerging economies like China, India and Brazil are likely to grow in influence at America's expense, the same cannot be said of the European Union. The NIC appears relatively certain the EU will be "losing clout" by 2025. Internal bickering and a "democracy gap" separating Brussels from European voters will leave the EU "a hobbled giant", unable to translate its economic clout into global influence.


Here is a link to the entire report, Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World.
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sarek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 10:56 am
@Theaetetus,
It is a well known fact that existing economic and military advantages serve as a challenge for those less fortunate to catch up. That is what is happening now. Such times of transition unfortunately are never the most stable periods is world history.

As long as nations continue to discriminate against each other in terms of economy, trade opportunities, military power and technological capabilities conflict will remain inevitable and the first will historically always end up to be the last in an eternal roundabout until this vicious circle can be broken.
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 12:56 pm
@Theaetetus,
This report sounds about right from the article...that imagined presidential diary entry though was quite comical.
BlueChicken
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:31 am
@Pangloss,
I take issue with simple, and often unexplained, points to China and Russia as the next economic powers in the world. Yes, both of these countries are making vast efforts to strengthen their economies. Yes, these countries are both absurdly rich in natural resources. And yes, both represent markets that can be easily swayed away from Western economic agreements and trade efforts.

However, the instability in these markets is something that will have to be seen. The US has had a desperate time holding up two wars in terms of economic strain, and this is to fight in wars the electively chose. Both Russia and China have much more local concerns to threaten them militarily. In China, I still think a repeat 1956-59 will reoccur given the global support for Tibet, rather than China. For Russia, while their economic base is expanding many of the former-USSR regions are still unstable, and another Chechnya would not serve Russian trade well.

As well, as of right now neither of these countries holds the gall to be a superpower now: the indications are given for the future (sometime between 2020 and 2050 depending on who you ask), which is fairly tentative in economics. The future is often difficult to anticipate, especially when sitting within a near global recession. Although there is obvious signs of American influence waning (unless they make some substantial changes) I don't think this raises the question "Will Russia or China be the next superpower?" but rather, "Will there even be another superpower?"

As off topic as that may be, it strikes home on the farm.
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:06 am
@Theaetetus,
I think the question will there even be another superpower is interesting indeed. Considering what a superpower is, and how they manifest, it seems that injustice is a requirement for superpowers to even exist. Look at all of the so-called superpowers throughout history. There is always a demoralization of the others to rationalize inhuman treatment to promote enhanced welfare for the people of the superpower.

A superpower also typically has a massive military designed for overpowering offensive force in order to gain more territory for a larger resource base. The superpower then can manipulate others and coerce them into doing things that are not necessarily in their best interest.

Maybe it should be asked, would we even want another superpower?
BlueChicken
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 09:15 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I think the question will there even be another superpower is interesting indeed. Considering what a superpower is, and how they manifest, it seems that injustice is a requirement for superpowers to even exist. Look at all of the so-called superpowers throughout history. There is always a demoralization of the others to rationalize inhuman treatment to promote enhance welfare for the people of the superpower.

Maybe it should be asked, would we even want another superpower?

Both the short and the long answer is no for 'us', but an emphatic 'yes' for them.

In the history of superpowers there is always an immense increase in wealth for the controlling interests within the superpower. Throughout history those who benefit from global empire (or empires of global interest) are those who either control the empire or those who stand to make a lot of money from it (nationalized buisiness or those who have controlling interests in empire-building, such as the Hudson's Bay Company here in Canada). Although superpowers are almost always guilty of atrocious acts in order to keep and extend power, the fact that they keep power is often enough of a sufficient justification. The people may not love it (and often the end of superpowers is not fading away but burning to the ground by malcontents) but they are often without recourse to change it.

But your point is taken: is the world better off with one or two major powers and a bunch of minor 'allies' and 'neutrals' where all the interaction actually occurs (such as the Middle East during the Cold War), or the seemingly developing arena of middle to minor players all with their own interests apart from eachother? I am more inclined to think the second would be preferrable, but I don't come from a nation that will ever enjoy superpwer status which may cloud my judgement as to their legitimacy.

It is so much easier when the pigs are happy with their pen, and the chicken coup is free from the wolves.
0 Replies
 
Padawan phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Dec, 2008 06:44 am
@Theaetetus,
Western democracy is an oxymoron. Almost all 2 party systems, which seem the norm in english speaking nations ar least, offer a choice so narrow as to be non existant. Free market capitalists claim socialism is a failed doctrine whilst ignoring the fact that they've failed every time us idiots have allowed them their way. As always the middle way seems best, until memories fade and we allow ourselves to be conned by those that set the agenda.

I for one won't be sad to see the end of American dominance. The christian fundamentalists that run the republican party scare me much more than China. For all but 8 years of the last 28, end of days nutjobs have controlled the Whitehouse. We love to pick holes in China's human rights record but ignore the failings of our own governments. America is no longer a force for good, if it ever was. Any country that would elect a psychopath like W twice deserves it's fate. I fear the U.S will let loose the dogs of war, in the name of god of course, before ceding power to a new economic superpower.

Sorry BlueChicken but I can't see Tibet having any negative impact on China. It may be a popular issue because we all love the Dalai but that kind of act seems a prerequisite for superpower status rather than a hinderance as far as I can tell. Far more people were opposed to the gulf war revisited but as always it had NO influence on the powers that be.

American leadership has taken enormous blows in recent years. When tiny 3rd world nations tell the U.S if they won't lead the fight against global warming, please get out of the way, credibility is shattered. Barack has a massive job ahead of him if he is to restore America's position in the world. I doubt the political will exists, but I hope I'm wrong.
avatar6v7
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Dec, 2008 01:33 pm
@Padawan phil,
I think that this report fails to understand alot of critical things. One of my major issues with it is its anachronistic view of resources=power. In a world where sustainble sources of power will be the future, resource poor but innovative nations like US and European countries could find their lack of resources to be an asset, as they will have the technology and economy to cope with a new relationship between humanity and the globe, whereas countries like Russia and China will burn brightly breifly and then fade if they follow the lure of cheap and easy industrialisation. The US may find its power fading, but this is due to internal reasons, and its insistence on crude resource based economics. However the EU with progressive enviromental schemes, and with what may be the model for successful relations between formally warring states, could again put Europe at the top.
0 Replies
 
Elmud
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 11:20 pm
@sarek,
sarek wrote:
It is a well known fact that existing economic and military advantages serve as a challenge for those less fortunate to catch up. That is what is happening now. Such times of transition unfortunately are never the most stable periods is world history.

As long as nations continue to discriminate against each other in terms of economy, trade opportunities, military power and technological capabilities conflict will remain inevitable and the first will historically always end up to be the last in an eternal roundabout until this vicious circle can be broken.

Will the circle, be unbroken? By and by Lord, by and by. -Johnny Cash. Or, was it June Carter Cash ? Can't remember.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 08:19 pm
@Elmud,
Tibet is lost: the Tibetans are now the minority in their own country, and even though worldwide popular support is with Tibet and the Tibetan people and set against Chinese colonialism, no government is willing to act. It's over, and Tibet is gone. The Chinese government has successfully destroy that beautiful culture.
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 03:15 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Tibet is lost: the Tibetans are now the minority in their own country, and even though worldwide popular support is with Tibet and the Tibetan people and set against Chinese colonialism, no government is willing to act. It's over, and Tibet is gone. The Chinese government has successfully destroy that beautiful culture.


As long as there is a single Tibetan left in the world, Tibet is never destroyed.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 03:32 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:
As long as there is a single Tibetan left in the world, Tibet is never destroyed.


Just got news the last one was exterminated on Friday.

Sad world.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 01:24 pm
@Zetherin,
That feeling is optimistic, but also unrealistic, Victor.

The exile community has managed to rebuild what they can, and continue to work at recreating their culture and working towards reentering Tibet. But the realities of Communist occupation are not wiped away because of optimism and hard work. The Tibetans need a great deal more support than they have and a great deal more support than they are able to generate to rebuild their home.
0 Replies
 
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 09:38 pm
@Theaetetus,
There are no more pure Beothuks, but the Beothuk culture is still remembered, it'll never be destroyed if there are at least one Beothuk to remember it. Even if pure Tibetans are gone, as long as Chinese Tibetans remember the Tibetan culture, Tibet lives.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Mar, 2009 10:33 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:
There are no more pure Beothuks, but the Beothuk culture is still remembered, it'll never be destroyed if there are at least one Beothuk to remember it. Even if pure Tibetans are gone, as long as Chinese Tibetans remember the Tibetan culture, Tibet lives.


There's a difference between remembering a culture and the culture actually existing anymore.

PS: I was joking with my last post :a-ok:
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Mar, 2009 02:33 pm
@Zetherin,
We will have history, relics, and hopefully a thriving exile community. But what is lost is that mountain top kingdom focused on inner development. That was the shinning kingdom on the very steep hill.

I see what you are saying: and that god you are right. But there are losses to lament, and work to be done to rebuild, not Tibet per say, but something like it.
0 Replies
 
 

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