US advocates world powersharing as its own power wanes up to the mid century

With that particular intelligence community’s capacity for getting it wrong, the US’s intelligence assessment of the dispersal of power in the world by 2025 might deserve a cynical reaction, were it not for the fact that much of it is a statement of the glaringly obvious. Remember the health warning though, that it’s the role of intelligence agencies to warn about threats rather than present opportunities or give a balanced view.

It is not a prediction…. “Nothing that we have identified in this report is determinative. Nothing in it is inevitable or immutable. These are trends and developments and drivers that are subject to policy intervention and manipulation.”

The key message is an admission of the decline of American power which the Iraq fiasco has only confirmed ( though they don’t say that).

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.

What had the rest of the world been telling Dubya for years? But The New York Times detects a glimmer of light.

“The appeal of terrorism is waning…

“While not contradicting intelligence assessments suggesting that Al Qaeda remains a major threat with a strong presence in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the report says that the group “may decay sooner” than many experts have assumed because of severe weaknesses: “unachievable strategic objectives, inability to attract broad-based support and self-destructive actions.”

The Washington Post pulls out the threat of dwindling resources.

The drive for dwindling resources, including energy and water, combined with the spread of nuclear weapons technology could make large swaths of the globe ripe for regional conflicts, some of them potentially devastating…

While the Financial Times highlights the assessment of a static Europe.

“a hobbled giant distracted by internal bickering and competing national agendas”. The title of the section says it all: “Europe: Losing Clout in 2025?.

While I’m pretty confident the EU as a whole will continue to reject integration, and the fall-out from recession is impossible to predict as yet, I’ve higher hopes than Global Trends for more gradual European burden sharing on defence, an agreed understanding of human rights and economic co-ordination over the currency, trade and even the CAP. Better right than quick. On the future position of the US with all its faults and in spite of the disastrous foray into unilateralism that was the hallmark of Dubya even before 9/11, the world would become a much more dangerous place if the Americans retreated into isolation. The huge challenge for Obama is to keep America’s window on the world open while working on the big question of the next decade: has American retained its great ability to regenerate and reinvent itself? As China becomes more subject to internal pressures, there’s little hope of world leadership from that quarter. The American way is taking a huge battering but there’s still no substitute for it.

  • I would say this report is overly gloomy from an American point of view. Unfortunately. There is little sign that two decades from now India and China will be significant international players in terms of projecting power. The Americans yap about increased Chinese military spending, but neglect to mention that they spend more than the next 9 countries put together.

    I wonder how much the expectation of the collapse of the DPRK is dictating the choice of engagement or not with it. Both those for and against engagement will argue that their policy will hasten the demise of the regime there. I expect Obama will continue with engagement.

  • Tazia Doll

    When the Vietcong attacked Long Binh and Biên Hòa Air Base, it was fairly obvious there were limitations,

    the one powerful voice hasn’t existed since before WWII, during it, or after it.

    The US has constantly struggled against things it couldn’t do as much about as it would have liked.

    If the Soviets could make it, the Chinese can also eventually make it. If it works ‘good enough’, that is something,

    Because if one won’t do it, they’ll send twelve.

  • 6countyprod

    The huge challenge for Obama is to keep America’s window on the world open

    I don’t know why they bother, but it is just their nature, I suppose.

    Bush was very much involved in world affairs, particularly in the Middle East (for better or for worst – depending on your politics) and Africa (definitely for better), and of course his passion for open and free trade was a benefit to the whole world. Bush’s go-it-alone attitude to international issues basically sidelined Europeans, which is why so many Europeans like the idea of an Obama presidency. Maybe he will give us the respect we deserve! Right? Wouldn’t count on it, though.

    Once Obama starts implementing his protectionist policies, I don’t think it will be very long until the more enlightened but increasingly irrelevant Europeans resort to their sneering attitude to The American Way.

    As for the idea of China showing leadership… dream on. China is in the process of colonizing Africa for its own needs. Unlike America it plans to take (big time), not give.

  • Yes everything America does is altruistic. Funny how it seems to be most altruistic towards those countries that have natural resources, and ignoring those that don’t.

  • Tazia Doll

    I agree it is only a matter of time, before the high price of maple syrup, forces the United States to take action against its northern neighbour.

    The May 2006 NORAD renewal failed to deliver the kind of compliances the United States needs in relation to a range of ‘feel safe’ issues, Canada is begging to be invaded.

  • joeCanuck

    The USA would be advised to think twice before invading us. On enlisting our soldiers are issued plastic knives and forks.

  • 6countyprod

    Funny how it seems to be most altruistic towards those countries that have natural resources, and ignoring those that don’t.

    So, tell me G, what was Bush’s motivation in leading the campaign in Africa (in the poorest countries in the world) against AIDS and malaria?

    I noticed an interesting article this morning that said that despite the downturn in the US, giving to charitable causes has remained constant. Do you think we generous Europeans will follow the US example? I doubt it!

    It is fascinating to observe some commentators as they gloat about the prospect of the US losing its powerful position in the world. Do they not realize the possible consequences of such a situation? How many people really think that a resurgent Russian or a conquering China or an irresistible Islam would be a good thing for the world?

    May the USA long remain the leader of the free (and otherwise) world!

  • Baz está fresco em Vermont

    “The USA would be advised to think twice before invading us. On enlisting our soldiers are issued plastic knives and forks.”

    For real?

    When I was doing ballet, in Russia, I was shown a T64 and its dart, came out of the tube, turned stuff to plastic, I didn’t know, the sheer energy, could do that. I think it was a 120mm

    I actually met a Miss Tractor, who worked in a tractor factory, which made tractors. That was in Belarus.

  • 6 county,

    So the action against AIDS and malaria – which was certainly a good thing – outweighs all the other stuff, and is in no way a publicity stunt to distract from all the other stuff. If they were really serious about international health programmes, they would give the UN the billion plus they owe it, and which causes progressive programmes by the UN to be suspended or cut.

    The relative cost of the action against AIDS and malaria is nothing next to the various invasions.