Intelligence community issues warning about shifting global power
The United States will lose economic superiority by 2030 as fiscal power moves eastward and global stability faces new threats, says the National Intelligence Council.
In its fifth report (.pdf) on future global trends, published Dec. 10, NIC says that Asia will see its gross domestic product, population, military spending and technological advancement and innovation overtake Europe and North America combined by the end of 2030.
The report reflects scenarios agreed upon by a consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that worked with research and academic institutions, political leaders and corporations around the world.
"China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030," says the report. "Meanwhile, the economies of Europe, Japan and Russia are likely to continue their slow relative declines."
U.S. citizens will also feel the impact of a global population rise to an estimated 8.3 billion people. The report says that would cause a 35 percent increase in the demand for food plus water, which will outstrip sustainable supplies. Continued climate change may also play a role in limiting the water supply.
Despite its loss in economic superiority, the United States is expected to maintain its superpower status as one of the few countries able to create multinational coalitions and mobilize efforts to address global issues.
As for global trade, the report says multinational companies will next target growing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, often called the BRIC countries. This will be good for global stability, it argues, as non-state actors will gain power and become more accountable to the public, which will push states to regulate industries and adopt transparency protocols that can apply to both public and private enterprise.
The Middle East may also see a more diverse economy due to increased access to oil and gas in the West through technology like hydraulic fracturing. These technologies will lead the United States toward energy independence and will allow it to expand its natural gas reserves from 30 years to 100 years, the report says.
Despite their economic benefits, technology advancements through 2030 are also likely to bring increased nuclear proliferation, the report says. The development of nuclear weapons in Iran may lead to a highly unstable future for the Middle East. The report also sees states deploying a "wider spectrum of more accessible instruments of war" such as biological weapons, cyberattacks and more accurate missiles.
While regional democracies could stifle Islamic extremist terrorism to some extent, the report says "right-wing and left-wing ideological groups--some of the oldest users of terrorist tactics--also will pose threats."
A cyber arms race is also likely, the report says, adding though that their role in the future of war is unclear.
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