Friday, November 21, 2008

Sun sets on US power: report predicts end of dominance.

The latest global trends review, produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) every four years, is predicting that US power will wane by 2025 and that the advance of western-style democracy is no longer assured with countries like India and China challenging US dominance.

It's a further indication that the country which Barack Obama inherits will no longer "call the shots" and makes him a perfect choice as the kind of person both the world and the US needs to see the US through this dangerous transition period. The era of George Bush and the neo-cons, the era of "we do what we want and there's nothing anyone can do to stop us" is looking as if it is very much nearing it's end.

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 vanity of the neo-cons and the American right wing in particular was best summed up after the cold war by the title of Francis Fukuyama's book, "The End of History". They really did believe that the they had won the battle for world domination and that they would forge ahead and create A New American Century and that there was nothing anyone could do to stop them.

It was this vanity which led Bush to rip up international law with his invasion of Iraq, as he and other right wing loons believed that the law would be what they stated it to be and that the rest of us would simply have to swallow hard and accept this new reality.

Those of us who had read Emmanuel Todd's "After the Empire" suspected that American power was actually on the wane and the fact that Bush not only failed to win in Iraq, but that he was unable to punish countries which opposed the invasion - France, Germany etc., - only reinforced that impression.

People like Bill Clinton have always argued that international law mattered because the US was in a position to model the world into how it would like it to look for the day when it was no longer on the top of the pile. Bush and the neo-cons, consumed by vanity, argued that international law didn't really exist and that they observed it merely as a courtesy and reserved the right to ignore it as it suited them.

As we move into this difficult transition period, we can be grateful that a steady hand like that of Barack Obama is on the US wheel. Were Bush and Cheney in charge at such a time we could very well sit on the edge of the nuclear abyss.

The time is approaching when the US can no longer tell the rest of the world to fuck off and international law is about to matter more than it ever has before.

The example set by the Obama presidency will matter greatly as America approaches the time when it finally becomes a first amongst equals.

Related Articles:

No more them and us, with a farewell to American supremacy.

The biggest winner in the coming multipolar age will be China, according to the NIC report.

"China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country," it predicts. On present trends China will have the world's second largest economy by 2025, and could well be the largest importer of natural resources and the biggest polluter. It will be a leading military power, with a considerable navy to protect the sea lanes that deliver its raw materials, and at the same time wield hi-tech asymmetric tools.

A US congressional panel claimed on Wednesday night that China was already practising its cyber warfare skills.

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