(Article changed on December 13, 2012 at 07:25)
By Dave Lindorff
The US is on the way out as a hegemonic power.
That is the primary conclusion of a new report out of the National Intelligence Council -- a government organization that produces mid-term and long-range thinking for the US intelligence community.
Titled "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds," this 140-page study says emphatically that the "relative decline" of the US is "inevitable," but adds that its future role in the international system is "much harder to project," and goes on to say that "the degree to which the US continues to dominate the international system could vary widely."
Among the factors that could determine what the US role in global affairs might be a little less than two decades from now are whether the US dollar continues to be the world's reserve currency, how China handles the transition from a country of poor workers and peasants to a country with a large middle-class, and whether the US "will be able to work with new partners to restructure the international system."
The study is interesting in that it is represents a complete rejection of the notorious Project for a New American Century, which was a private Neoconservative blueprint for long-term US hegemony over the rest of the globe and which became the driving philosophy underlying the Bush-Cheney administration's domestic and foreign policy in the first decade of this century. The PNAC called for the US to establish unchallenged global dominance and to do whatever was necessary to "prevent" any other nation from challenging that dominance going forward.
The authors of this new study take it as a given that the heyday of the US is over. As they put it, "The "unipolar moment' is over and Pax Americana -- the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 -- is fast winding down." They say, optimistically, that the US is likely to remain "first among equals" at least into 2030 "because of its preeminence across a range of power dimensions and legacies of its leadership role." But that's a far cry from being able to dictate to the rest of the world.