London, Nov 21 (UNI) The political, economic and military influence of the United States will substantially decline over the next two decades, according to a report by the country's leading intelligence organisation.
The report, which forecast an unpredictable world in which the advance of western-style democracy is far from guaranteed, 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 National Intelligence Council analysis Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World is expected to 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 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,'' it noted.
Mr Obama will assume power in January with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a resurgent Russia, an Iran determined to build a nuclear bomb and instability over the Palestinian territories.
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 that ''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 international system, as constructed following the Second World War, will be almost unrecognisable 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,'' it added.
The authors said ''We do not believe that we are headed toward a complete breakdown of the international system'', but gave warning that ''the next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks.'' 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 would weaken to the point where it becomes a ''first among equals''.
The growing relative power of ''businesses, tribes, religious organisations and criminal networks'' was likely to continue, it concluded.
UNI XC RJ RN1708