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The Boston Globe


james carroll

Not No. 1? US can gain from balance of power

When the US government’s National Intelligence Council released a new strategic forecast recently, the subsequent news headlines hinted at the downbeat conclusions many of the document’s readers drew. “US out as sole superpower,” read one headline. “Asia rises, the West declines,” read another. “China to be Number One in 2030” was the most succinct. An editorial in The Washington Times concluded, “Decline is not a fate — it is a choice. Sadly, it is one that America, especially the Obama administration, has made. Until we change course, the future belongs to China.”

Every four years, the combined US intelligence agencies project forward along lines set by so-called “megatrends.” Looking ahead almost two decades, the new report envisions a range of demographic, environmental, political, and economic scenarios, but here is the most telling one: “With the rapid rise of other countries, the ‘unipolar moment’ is over, and no country — whether the US, China, or any other country — will be a hegemonic power.” Putting it differently, the Defense Department press service declared that “the American century is drawing to a close.”

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