U.S. think-tank Stratfor has recently released its new “Decade Forecast: 2015-2025” where it warns that the EU will decay, China will end up in “a communist dictatorship,” and Russia will disintegrate.
In the report, Stratfor says there are several key trends that have emerged. Here is recap of what they are forecasting:
* The European Union (EU) has “entered a crisis” that “has increased in intensity“ and that “the EU will never return to its previous unity, and if it survives it will operate in a more limited and fragmented way in the next decade“.
* Germany will “suffer severe economic reversals in the next decade and Poland will increase its regional power as a result”.
* The current confrontation with Russia over Ukraine will remain a centerpiece of the international system over the next few years. The U.S. think tank believes that the Russian Federation cannot exist in its current form for the entire decade and is expecting “Moscow’s authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia”.
* Turkey’s southern border is vulnerable with fighting, and the nation will be slowly drawn into the conflict. But by the end of this decade, “Turkey will emerge as the major regional power, and Turkish-Iranian competition will increase as a result”.
* China has completed a high-growth cycle as a low-wage country and has entered a new phase that is the “new normal”. This phase includes “much slower growth and an increasingly powerful dictatorship” to contain the divergent forces created by slow growth. China will continue to be a major economic force but will not be the dynamic engine of global growth it once was.The U.S. is expected to be the major economic, political, and military power in the world “but will be less engaged than in the past.”
* The U.S. “will face major strategic threats with proportional power, but it will not serve the role of first responder as it has in recent years”.
The decade ahead according to Stratfor is summed up as:
It will be a disorderly world, with a changing of the guard in many regions. The one constant will be the continued and maturing power of the United States — a power that will be much less visible and that will be utilized far less in the next decade.
Stratfor believes that the EU will be unable to solve its fundamental problems, which isn’t the eurozone, but the free trade zone. Germany is the center of gravity of the EU as it exports more than 50 percent of its GDP, with half of it going to other EU countries.
The report says that the “EU may survive in some sense”, but that European economic, political, and military relations will be governed primarily by bilateral or limited multilateral relationships that are going to be “small in scope and not binding”.
The economy of Germany — the world’s fourth-largest economic power — is hostage to the economic well-being and competitive environment in which it operates, the report says.
Multiple forces are working against Germany including Europe’s increasing nationalism that will lead to protectionist capital and labor markets and weaker nations adopting various sorts of capital controls, according to the report.
Stratfor sees Germany beginning “an extended economic decline that will lead to a domestic social and political crisis and that will reduce Germany’s influence in Europe during the next 10 years“.
Poland and Romania will benefit from as a strategic partnership with the U.S. as it looks to make their economies as “vigorous as possible”, to stabilize their societies and to make them capable of building military forces, the report says.
Stratfor believes that it is not likely that Russia is going to survive its current state and that its failure to transform its energy revenue into a self-sustaining economy makes it vulnerable to price fluctuations.
Moscow’s withering ability to support and control the Russian Federation will leave a vacuum and what will exist in this vacuum will be the individual fragments of the Russian Federation which will “create the greatest crisis of the next decade,” according to the report.
Russia is the site of a massive nuclear strike force distributed throughout the hinterlands. The decline of Moscow’s power will open the question of who controls those missiles and how their non-use can be guaranteed. This will be a major test for the United States. Washington is the only power able to address the issue, but it will not be able to seize control of the vast numbers of sites militarily and guarantee that no missile is fired in the process. The United States will either have to invent a military solution that is difficult to conceive of now, accept the threat of rogue launches, or try to create a stable and economically viable government in the regions involved to neutralize the missiles over time.
The Middle East and North Africa:
The Middle East — particularly the area between the Levant and Iran, along with North Africa — is experiencing national breakdowns and in countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq, there has been a devolution of the nation-state into factions that war on each other and that cross the increasingly obsolete borders of countries, the report says.
The U.S. will act to mitigate the threat of these particular factions, which will change over time, through the use of limited force. But the U.S. won’t deploy multi-divisional forces to the region and as a result regional expectations will shift more slowly than reality, according to the report.
Stratfor believes that as reality sinks in, only one country has an overriding interest in stabilizing Syria and Iraq, due to its location: Turkey, as it has the means to at least achieve limited success in the region.
Turkey will continue to need U.S. involvement for political and military reasons, and the U.S. will oblige, however there will be a price: participation in the containment of Russia, the report says.
Stratfor says that Turkey won’t be able to withstand years of chaos across its border, and there will be no other country to carry the burden, and that Turkey will likely to try to build shifting coalitions that may ultimately reach into North Africa to stabilize the situation.
Turkish-Iranian competition will grow with time, but Turkey will keep its options open to work with both Iran and Saudi Arabia as needed and whatever the dynamic, Turkey will be at the center of it, according to the report.
Stratfor says that Turkey needs to find a domestic political balance awhile resolving internal political conflict and evolving its military, intelligence, and diplomatic services .
With that in mind, Stratfor expects to see an acceleration of Turkey’s emergence as a major regional power in the next 10 years.
China has ceased to be a high-growth, low-wage economy, and as their economy slows, the process of creating and organizing an economic infrastructure to employ low-wage workers will be incremental, the report states.
China’s problem over the next decade are the political and social consequences of that shift, the report states.
According to Stratfor, Beijing’s growing “dictatorial tendencies“ and an anti-corruption campaign, which is actually Beijing’s assertion of its power over all of China, provide an outline of what China would like to see in the next decade.
China is following a “hybrid path that will centralize political and economic powers, assert Party primacy over the military, and consolidate previously fragmented industries like coal and steel amid the gradual and tepid implementation of market-oriented reforms in state-owned enterprises and in the banking sector”, the report says.
“It is highly likely that a dictatorial state coupled with more modest economic expectations will result,” Stratfor says.
Our forecast is the imposition of a communist dictatorship, a high degree of economic and political centralization and increased nationalism, Stratfor says.
Stratfor concludes the report with this:
There is no decade without pain, and even in the most perfect of times, there is suffering. The crises that we expect in the next decade are far from the worst seen in the past century, and they are no worse than those we will see in the next.