London, Nov 21 : The National Intelligence Council, an independent US Government body, has forecasted that the political, economic and military influence of America will substantially decline over the next two decades.
The country's leading intelligence organization said in its report that the advance of western-style democracy is far from guaranteed in an unpredictable world, The Telegraph reported. The National Intelligence Council analysis "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World" will serve as a sobering reminder to President-Elect Barack Obama of the challenges he faces leading a country that might no longer be able to "call the shots alone".
"The international system, as constructed following the Second World War, will be almost unrecognizable by 2025, owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalising economy, an historic transfer of wealth from West to East, and the growing influence of non-state actors," the report said.
"Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor, the United States' relative strength - even in the military realm, will decline and US leverage will become more strained."
Researchers predicted China and India were likely to join the United States atop a multi-polar world and compete for influence. Russia's potential was less certain, but Iran, Turkey and Indonesia were also seen gaining power.
The use of nuclear weapons will grow increasingly likely by 2025, the report found, forecasting a tense, unstable world shadowed by war.
"The world of the near future will be subject to an increased likelihood of conflict over scarce resources, including food and water, and will be haunted by the persistence of rogue states and terrorist groups with greater access to nuclear weapons."
The report also predicted that some African and South Asian states may wither away altogether, and organised crime could take over at least one state in central Europe.
Struggling to find a bright spot, researchers concluded that terrorism could decline if "economic growth continues in the Middle East and youth unemployment is reduced".
However, it concluded, "opportunities for mass-casualty terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, or less likely, nuclear weapons will increase as technology diffuses and nuclear power programmes expand".
Based on a survey of trends by analysts from all US intelligence agencies around the world, it was more pessimistic about status of the world's superpower than the four previous outlooks that have been made public, The Telegraph reported.
The current financial crisis on Wall Street is the beginning of a global economic rebalancing, the report found, predicting that the dollar's role as the major world currency will weaken to the point where it becomes a "first among equals".
Officials said the report was timed to be ready for Barack Obama when he takes office on January 20.