- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has been the world’s sole superpower. Yet, this hegemony will wane by 2025, according to a report by the National Intelligence Council, a center of strategic thinking within the American government. The report, titled “Global Trends 2025,” outlines the continued rise of China and India; this will lead to a multipolar system in which American and Western influence will be less preeminent. China and India are spearheading a massive - and unprecedented - transfer of wealth from West to East. Thus, America’s current power will be greatly curtailed by the time today’s toddler is entering college.

The report states that America will remain the world’s most dominant nation, but that its relative strength will decrease. By 2025, China will be the second largest economy as well as a foremost military power. India, too, is becoming an economic powerhouse and a major locus of manufacturing; it will likely be the third largest economy in the world. These nations are also spawning companies that are globally competitive and will have widespread influence. China and India will be the largest contributors to worldwide economic growth, says the report.

This remarkable growth coincides with the rise of “state capitalism.” In China, India and Russia the new wealth that is generated is directed by the state - and more ominously - can be concentrated in its hands. In a global economy, this massive transfer of wealth from West to East can imperil American security: An emerging nation could choose to wield its economic clout to shape foreign policy. Russia, for instance, is using its control of natural gas to counterpoise EU and American policy initiatives.

One might very well argue that American unipolarism is unsustainable - that the rise of other nations in commensurate influence is inevitable. Some might also say that this is good for the United States, as other countries can share the burden of policing the world - a task which now falls heavily on American shoulders, often at the expense of its domestic needs. India for example, a democracy and a vital U.S. ally, is especially helpful in counterbalancing China. Yet, while the dispersal of power has advantages, there are also even more dangerous disadvantages. The most glaring is that the new models of “state capitalism” and authoritarian rule advanced by China and Russia conflict with American ideals. What happens if China, in alliance with other nations who imitate this model of development, ultimately surpasses American influence?

Being the world’s sole superpower can often seem to be a curse and a burden to the public, which must bear its momentous responsibilities. Yet, losing ground presents even greater pitfalls - ones that may ultimately even jeopardize American freedoms. “Global Trends 2025” is a wake-up call. Either we rise to the challenges presented, or allow our rivals to continue to gain ground - and possibly one day threaten our most cherished ideals.

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