The superpower is history. That’s according to a US report that says no one country will hold sway in global politics by 2030. Instead, America will be one of several equal powers and China will be the world’s largest economy. It is an American vision of a changing world.
Megatrends, unipolar moments and hegemonic power. These are all obscure global factors taken into consideration by the US National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 report. US intelligence analysts, foreign and private experts have all contributed to the report’s conclusion which predicts the power of Asia will surpass the combined clout of North America and Europe on the world stage. That’s when account GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment are taken into account.
Martin Jacques is author of the book ‘when China rules the world.’ He thinks the US Intelligence report is a naïve assessment of Asia’s power.
“It underestimates the extent to which within twenty years China’s influence, for example in East Asia, will be really dominant” he says. “In eighteen years’ time the United States will be a relatively insignificant economic player and presence in East Asia, which is already the largest economic region in the world and home to one third of the world’s population”.
Mr Jacques maintains that not only is the report an underestimation, it is purposely so. America, he says, is in denial of the true scale of its own decline.
“America, both its elites and its people, are in denial of this… There was absolutely no debate about the decline of America.”
There are other objections to the report’s global vision. Professor Albrecht Ritschl, Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics, says projections that far into the future are no more than science fiction. He says it is ‘scientifically impossible’ to make accurate predictions about the world economy.
Professor Ritschl is wary of the report’s conclusions for historical reasons as well. American intelligence, he says, has a history of being over-cautious when estimating the capacity of its global competitors.
“It is very well known that during the cold war the CIA made the most fantastic assessments and estimates of the economic capacity of Eastern European countries basically to be on the safe side. So if they now predict that America is just going to fall back and lose its status as a world leader, let’s never forget this is a political statement and not just a scientific forecast.”
The report says the economies of Europe, Japan and Russia will continue to decline. It identifies Colombia, India, Turkey and Nigeria as countries other than China that will all become increasingly powerful economic players by 2030.
But despite predicting the economies of China and India will grow at twice the speed of the US economy, the report states America will remain the only power that can orchestrate the various global coalitions. So, it seems the superpower is not really dead at all.