- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The top U.S. intelligence panel this week is expected to issue a snapshot of the world in 2025, in a report that predicts fading American economic and military dominance and warns of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

The predictions come from the National Intelligence Council (NIC), part of Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell’s office.

The NIC report, a draft copy of which is titled “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,” is slated for release as early as Thursday.

The report also predicts “a unified Korea” is likely by then, and that China will be the world’s second-largest economy and a major military power.

“The United States will remain the single most powerful country, although less dominant,” according to a “working draft” of the document obtained by The Washington Times. “Shrinking economic and military capabilities may force the U.S. into a difficult set of tradeoffs between domestic and foreign-policy priorities.”

A senior intelligence official said some details have changed in the final report, but “the thrust is the same.”

The draft says:

“The next 20 years of transition toward a new international system are fraught with risks, such as a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and possible interstate conflicts over resources.”

“We see a unified Korea as likely by 2025 and assess the peninsula will probably be denuclearized, either via ongoing diplomacy or as a necessary condition for international acceptance of and cooperation with a needy new Korea.”

Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the NIC, said Tuesday that the report “should not be viewed as a prediction.” Even “projection” is not entirely correct, he said, though he used that word several times during a luncheon at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“It’s a stimulative document,” he said, adding that its release was meant to coincide with the transition to the administration of President-elect [Barack Obama], before policymakers get “consumed by events.”

Mr. Fingar declined to discuss details of the report until its official release, but he said its preparation took about 18 months and “engaged hundreds of people around the world in solicitation of ideas.”

The NIC’s last such report, issued four years ago, sought to look at the world in 2020.

One major difference between the two projections is that the new report for the first time makes the “assumption of a multipolar future.”

In addition to China, India and Russia, “Indonesia, Turkey and a post-clerically run Iran - states that are predominantly Islamic, but which fall outside the Arab core - appear well-suited for growing international roles,” it says.

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