Forecast Sees Eroded U.S. Power
December 11, 2012
A new forecast from the U.S. intelligence community says the United States will likely see its superpower status eroded by 2030 as Asian economies become stronger than the economies of North America and Europe.
However, the "Global Trends 2030" report, released on December 10 by the National Intelligence Council, says the United States is likely to remain among the world's most powerful countries because of the role it can play in resolving global crises, its technological advantages, and its "soft power" or cultural attributes.
The report says China is likely to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy in the 2020s. It says China's and India's current economic rises will 'dwarf' the rises of the United States and Japan in the 20th century.
The report says Europe, Japan, and Russia are expected to continue in slow economic decline, in part because of aging populations.
The study predicts that violent acts of Islamic terrorism will be less frequent by 2030. But it says cyberterrorist attacks are likely to increase and conflicts over resources such as water could lead to instability.
In what it describes as a "likely tectonic shift," the report also says the United States, one of the world's biggest energy importers, is expected to become energy independent.
It cites the United States regaining its position as the world's largest natural-gas producer and producing more crude oil through the use of "hydraulic fracturing technology."
The report said the United States most likely will remain "first among equals" among the other great powers by 2030 "because of its preeminence across a range of power dimensions."
However, it says with the rapid rise of other countries, the era of U.S. ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 is 'fast winding down.'
Decline Of Europe, Rise Of Asia
The report says that in Europe, Germany is likely to remain the leader of the other 26 European Union countries because of its economic growth prospects.
It says that by 2030, Russia will be facing a steep population drop of about another 10 million people -- a greater population decline than any other country.
However, it says that depending on Russia's economic growth rates and immigration policies, Russia could retain its current share of global power.
The report says "regional dynamics' in the Middle East and South Asia during the next couple of decades will have the potential to trigger broader instability.
It says that in the Middle East, the present high numbers of youth -- a driving force of the recent Arab Spring movements -- will give way to a gradually aging population.
It says that with new technologies beginning to provide the world with other sources of oil and gas, the Middle East's economy will be forced to become increasingly diversified.
It adds that if Iran's Islamic regime maintains power and is able to develop nuclear weapons, "the Middle East will face a highly unstable future." But it says the emergence of a democratically reformed Iran focused on economic modernization could have positive effects.
The report lists Afghanistan and Pakistan as among the top 15 countries with the highest risk of becoming "failed states.'
It says that low growth, rising food prices, and energy shortages will pose "stiff challenges" to governance in Pakistan and Afghanistan, portending "increased instability."
The report says India will most likely continue to consolidate its power advantage relative to Pakistan.
It says India's economy is already nearly eight times bigger than Pakistan's and that by 2030, this ratio "could easily be more than 16-to-1."
With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Acus.org
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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