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The new decade: How to live in a dangerous world

Dr Jassim Taqui

In the next decade the United States would be out of Afghanistan and Iraq. The American dominance would be in retreat. In terms of military, America will remain overwhelming military power in the world but would withdraw from aggressive operations in the world to a model of regional balances of power, which Washington maintains and manipulates when necessary.

These are the highlights of the strategic forecast outlined by Dr. George Friedman in his just released book titled, “The New Decade.” Friedman is the Chief Executive of STRATFOR, a think-tank associated with the CIA.

Friedman, however, believes that the United States would face two issues. First, Mexico is a rapidly growing but unstable power on US border. Mexico’s cartels are gaining power and influence in the United States. The US will be trapped by a culture that is uneasy with a massive Mexican immigrant population and an economy that cannot manage without it. The second is financial: retiring baby boomers will generate a capital crunch that will have to be dealt with by not allowing them to retire, cutting retirement benefits sharply or both.

Russia, according to the forecast, would scramble due to demographic declines. It will seek to reintegrate the former Soviet Union republics into some coherent entity in order to delay its demographic problems, expand its markets and reabsorb some territorial buffers.

Europe would experience a heightened native-immigrant tension between the elite who see foreign pool of labour in terms to the value they bring to the economy and broader population. The tension between economic interests and cultural stability will define Europe. Consequently, inter-European relations will be increasingly unpredictable and unstable.

Friedman predicts that China will witness a reduced rate of growth dramatically in order to calibrate growth with the rate of return on capital and to bring financial system into balance. To do so, it will have to deal with the resulting social and political tensions. The current Chinese economic model, which favours employment over all other concerns, is seen unsustainable. This model is only possible so long as Western population continue to consume Chinese goods in increasing volumes.

European demographics alone will make that impossible in the next decade. The model will also suffer from population explosion and economic and social disparities.

India is seen as not a factor due to diversity in regulations and tensions, its lack of infrastructure. The country will grow but in a wildly unpredictable and uneven manner.

Japan will face an existential crisis in the next decade. Its demographic problem is particularly painful. It will need labour badly.

Africa is seen as non-factor. Africa will not function on global scale. It will be consumed in proxy wars. Other strategic forecasts include the rising of Turkey as a regional power, the rising of Egypt in Africa, the pacification of Iran and “cooling” Jihad.

Copyright Pakistan Observer

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