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    New world order has US sharing centre stage (from The Age newspaper 22/11/08)

        * Julian Borger, London
        * November 22, 2008

    THE leading American intelligence organisation has warned that the world is entering an unstable and unpredictable period in which the advance of Western-style democracy cannot be taken for granted.

    It says that under these conditions, the US will no longer be able to “call the shots” alone as its power begins to wane.

    The global trends review, produced by the National Intelligence Council every four years, makes sobering reading for Barack Obama as he prepares to take office as president. It marks a dramatic shift from its last review in 2004 which confidently predicted “continued US dominance … most major powers have forsaken the idea of balancing the US”.

    The council now expects emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil to grow in influence at America’s expense. It also predicts that the EU will be “losing clout” by 2025. A “democracy gap” separating Brussels from voters would leave the EU “a hobbled giant”, unable to translate its economic power into global influence.

    The council, which co-ordinates analysis from all US intelligence agencies, foresees a fragmented world in 2025, with conflict over scarce resources rising, poorly contained by “ramshackle” international institutions, while nuclear proliferation, particularly in the Middle East, and even nuclear conflict, would grow more likely.

    Competition for dwindling natural resources, particularly fossil fuels, could lead to a criminal syndicate gaining control of a European country. Eurasian organised crime groups could use the power and wealth gained from their involvement in the oil and gas industry to influence or take over several European countries, it said.

    The report, Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed, warns that the spread of Western democratic capitalism can no longer be taken for granted.

    “No single outcome seems pre-ordained: 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.

    Giving the examples of Russia and China, the report says: “Today wealth is moving not just from West to East but is concentrating more under state control. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the state’s role in the economy may be gaining more appeal in the world.”

    By 2025, the report says, the US will become “less dominant” — no longer the unrivalled superpower but a “first among equals” in a more fluid and evenly balanced world.

    In a separate report, a US congressional panel warned that China was aggressively developing its power to wage cyber warfare and was now in a position to delay or disrupt the deployment of America’s military forces, potentially giving it the upper hand in any conflict. The bipartisan panel’s review said China had the capability to launch cyber attacks “anywhere in the world”. It found lines between private espionage and state-sponsored operations were increasingly blurred — some hackers were even trained at military bases.

    The council’s conclusions about the emerging multipolar world are in accord with Mr Obama’s stated preference for multilateralism. But its 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.

    It says international organisations such as the UN seem ill-prepared to fill the vacuum at a time of potential crises driven by climate change and the scarcity of resources such as oil, food and water.

    The council has also dramatically changed its assessment of the world’s energy situation. Four years ago it argued that oil and gas supplies were “sufficient to meet global demand” but the new report views a transition to cleaner fuels as inevitable. Only the speed of that change is in question.


    eh, who knows.  With as fast as things are changing, I don’t think anyone has a clear enough picture into the future to predict much of anything.  Some of this is certainly quite probable, but I’m going to work on putting positive energy towards these future topics so it tips the scales more and more towards positive growth.  :-)

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