WASHINGTON — A new intelligence assessment of global trends projects that China will outstrip the United States as the leading economic power before 2030, but that America will remain an indispensable world leader, bolstered in part by an era of energy independence.
Russia’s clout will wane, as will the economic strength of other countries reliant on oil for revenues, the assessment says.
The product of four years of intelligence-gathering and analysis, the study, by the National Intelligence Council, presents grounds for optimism and pessimism in nearly equal measure. The council reports to the director of national intelligence and has responsibilities for long-term strategic analysis.
One remarkable development it anticipates is a spreading affluence that leads to a larger global middle class that is better educated and has wider access to health care and communications technologies like the Internet and smartphones. The report assesses global trends until 2030.
“The growth of the global middle class constitutes a tectonic shift,” the study says, adding that billions of people will gain new individual power as they climb out of poverty. “For the first time, a majority of the world’s population will not be impoverished, and the middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector in the vast majority of countries around the world.”
At the same time, it warns, half of the world’s population will probably be living in areas that suffer from severe shortages of fresh water, meaning that management of natural resources will be a crucial component of global national security efforts.
But these developments also bring significant risks, allowing radicalized groups to enter world politics on a scale even more violent than that of current terrorist organizations by adopting “lethal and disruptive technologies,” including biological weapons and cyberweapons.