[OPE-L] The CIA's 2020 Vision => decline of US

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sun Jan 30 2005 - 10:11:14 EST

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Subject: Slate Article: 2020 Vision

 war stories
 2020 Vision
 A CIA report predicts that American global dominance could end in 15 years.
 By Fred Kaplan
 Posted  Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005, at 2:48 PM PT

Who will be the first politician brave enough to declare publicly that the
United States is a declining power and that America's leaders must urgently
discuss what to do about it? This prognosis of decline comes not (or not
only) from leftist scribes rooting for imperialism's downfall, but from the
National Intelligence Council—the "center of strategic thinking" inside the
U.S. intelligence community.

The NIC's conclusions are starkly presented in a new 119-page document,
"Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council's
2020 Project." It is unclassified and available on the CIA's Web site. The
report has received modest press attention the past couple weeks, mainly for
its prediction that, in the year 2020, "political Islam" will still be "a
potent force." Only a few stories or columns have taken note of its central

The likely emergence of China and India ... as new major global
players—similar to the advent of a united Germany in the 19th century and a
powerful United States in the early 20th century—will transform the
geopolitical landscape with impacts potentially as dramatic as those in the
previous two centuries.

In this new world, a mere 15 years away, the United States will remain "an
important shaper of the international order"—probably the single most
powerful country—but its "relative power position" will have "eroded." The
new "arriviste powers"—not only China and India, but also Brazil, Indonesia,
and perhaps others—will accelerate this erosion by pursuing "strategies
designed to exclude or isolate the United States" in order to "force or
cajole" us into playing by their rules.

America's current foreign policy is encouraging this trend, the NIC
concluded. "U.S. preoccupation with the war on terrorism is largely
irrelevant to the security concerns of most Asians," the report states. The
authors don't dismiss the importance of the terror war—far from it. But they
do write that a "key question" for the future of America's power and
influence is whether U.S. policy-makers "can offer Asian states an appealing
vision of regional security and order that will rival and perhaps exceed
that offered by China." If not, "U.S. disengagement from what matters to
U.S. Asian allies would increase the likelihood that they will climb on
Beijing's bandwagon and allow China to create its own regional security that
excludes the United States."

To the extent that these new powers seek others to emulate, they may look
to the European Union, not the United States, as "a model of global and
regional governance."

This shift to a multipolar world "will not be painless," the report goes
on, "and will hit the middle classes of the developed world in particular"
with further outsourcing of jobs and outflow of capital investment. In
short, the NIC's forecast involves not merely a recalibration in the balance
of world power, but also—as these things do—a loss of wealth, income, and,
in every sense of the word, security.

The trends should already be apparent to anyone who reads a newspaper. Not
a day goes by without another story about how we're mortgaging our future to
the central banks of China and Japan. The U.S. budget deficit, approaching a
half-trillion dollars, is financed by their purchase of Treasury notes. The
U.S. trade deficit—much of it amassed by the purchase of Chinese-made
goods—now exceeds $3 trillion. Meanwhile, China is displacing the United
States all across Asia—in trade, investment, education, culture, and
tourism. It's also cutting into the trade markets of Latin America. (China
is now Chile's No. 1 export market and Brazil's No. 2 trade partner.) Asian
engineering students who might once have gone to MIT or Cal Tech are now
going to universities in Beijing.

Meanwhile, as the European Union becomes a coherent entity, the dollar's
value against the euro has fallen by one-third in the past two years
(one-eighth just since September). As the dollar's rate of return declines,
currency investors—including those who have been financing our deficit—begin
to diversify their holdings. In China, Japan, Russia, and the Middle East,
central bankers have been unloading dollars in favor of euros. The Bush
policies that have deepened our debt have endangered the dollar's status as
the world's reserve currency.

What is the Bush administration doing to alter course or at least cushion
the blow? It's hard to say. During Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings
last week, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D–Md., raised some questions about the nexus
between international economics and political power. Rice referred him to
the secretary of the treasury.

The NIC issued the report a few weeks before Bush’s inaugural address, but
it serves to dump still more cold water on the lofty fantasy of America
delivering freedom to oppressed people everywhere. In Asia, the report
states, "present and future leaders are agnostic on the issue of democracy
and are more interested in developing what they perceive to be the most
effective model of governance." If the president really wanted to spread
freedom and democracy around the planet, he would (among other things) need
to present America as that "model of governance"—to show the world, by its
example, that free democracies are successful and worth emulating. Yet the
NIC report paints a world where fewer and fewer people look to America as a
model of anything. We can't sell freedom if we can't sell ourselves.
Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate. He can be reached at

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