Intelligence report predicts fading US influence in an unstable world

A US intelligence report on global trends issued on Thursday forecasts a tense, unstable world shadowed by war, with ebbing US influence under the Obama presidency and a greater risk of nuclear weapon use.



U.S. economic and political clout will decline over the next two decades and the world will grow more dangerous, with food and water scarce and weapons in abundance, U.S. intelligence agencies projected on Thursday.


The National Intelligence Council analysis "Global Trends 2025" said the current financial crisis on Wall Street is the beginning of a global economic rebalancing, and the U.S. dollar's role as the major world currency will weaken to the point where it becomes a "first among equals."


The report, based on a global survey of experts and trends by U.S. intelligence analysts, was more pessimistic about U.S. status than previous outlooks done every five years. But it said outcomes will depend in part on leadership actions.


"The next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks," it said.


It said China and India were likely to join the United States atop a multipolar world and compete for influence. Russia's potential was less certain, but Iran, Turkey and Indonesia were also seen gaining power.


A shift away from an oil-based energy system will be underway or complete by 2025, and better renewable technologies such as solar and wind power give the best opportunity for a quick and low-cost transition, the report said.


Global warming will be felt, and water, food and energy scarcity constraints may fuel conflict over resources.


"The international system, as constructed following the Second World War, will be almost unrecognizable by 2025, owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of wealth from West to East, and the growing influence of nonstate actors," the report said.


"Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor, the United States' relative strength -- even in the military realm, will decline and U.S. leverage will become more strained," it said.


"Strategic rivalries are most likely to revolve around trade, investments and technological innovation and acquisition, but we cannot rule out a 19th century-like scenario of arms races, territorial expansion and military rivalries."


Officials said the report's release was timed to be ready for the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Jan 20.

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