One can take the conclusions reached in this study on the effects of globalization and climate change several ways.
First and foremost, if the study's conclusions bear out - that American power and influence will decline over the next few decades - then we can rightfuly say that we would be victims of our own success. More than any other nation, America has championed globalization. The reasoning is sound. Free markets make for a freer people and that freedom is better than tyranny. Grossly simplified, yes but true nevertheless. Our committment to globalization envisions a better world for all based on a rising level of material wealth. People will live better, eat better, have access to better health care and thus live longer - all because of America pushing the world to open their markets.
An intelligence forecast being prepared for the next president on future global risks envisions a steady decline in U.S. dominance in the coming decades, as the world is reshaped by globalization, battered by climate change, and destabilized by regional upheavals over shortages of food, water and energy.
The report, previewed in a speech by Thomas Fingar, the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst, also concludes that the one key area of continued U.S. superiority -- military power -- will "be the least significant" asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because "nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force." Fingar's remarks last week were based on a partially completed "Global Trends 2025" report that assesses how international events could affect the United States in the next 15 to 17 years. Speaking at a conference of intelligence professionals in Orlando, Fingar gave an overview of key findings that he said will be presented to the next occupant of the White House early in the new year.
"The U.S. will remain the preeminent power, but that American dominance will be much diminished," Fingar said, according to a transcript of the Thursday speech. He saw U.S. leadership eroding "at an accelerating pace" in "political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas."
I always take a rather jaundiced view of studies like this because we have seen them before. The decline of America has been predicted since at least the 1970's and somehow, we always manage to adapt brilliantly to changes in the world and remain on top. Our economy is the marvel of the ages, reinventing itself as we go along because despite increasing government regulation and interference, we have the freest markets in the world. We can adapt better to this changing environment than anyone else and it has always been so.
I don't know if this study has anything in it that would change that dynamic. But if we use history as a guide, we will probably look at it in 50 years and laugh at its pessimism and shortsightedness.