In many ways, Stratfor thinks the world of ten years from now will be more dangerous place, with US power waning and other prominent countries experiencing a period of chaos and decline.
'There will not be an uprising against Moscow, but Moscow's withering ability to support and control the Russian Federation will leave a vacuum,' Stratfor warns. 'What will exist in this vacuum will be the individual fragments of the Russian Federation.'
Sanctions, declining oil prices, a plunging ruble, rising military expenses, and increasing internal discord will weaken the hold of Russia's central government over the world's largest country. Russia won't officially split into multiple countries, but Moscow's power may loosen to the point that Russia will effectively become a string of semi-autonomous regions that might not even get along with one another.
'We expect Moscow's authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia' the report states, adding that 'It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form.'
Russia's nuclear weapons infrastructure is decentralized and spread across a vast geographic area. If the political disintegration Stratfor predicts ever happens, it means that weapons, uranium stocks, and delivery systems could end up exposed in what will suddenly become the world's most dangerous power vacuum.
The breakout of Russia's nuclear weapons stockpile will be 'the greatest crisis of the next decade,' according to Stratfor.
And the US will have to figure out what to do about it, even if it means dispatching ground troops to secure loose weapons, materials, and delivery systems.
'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 Decade Forecast states. '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.'
Germany has an export-dependent economy that has richly benefitted from the continent-wide trade liberalization ushered in by the EU and the Euro, but that just means the country has the most to lose from an even more protracted Euro crisis and a resulting wave of Euro-scepticism.
The country's domestic consumption can't make up for this dip in Germany's export economy or for a projected decline in population: The result is Japan-style stagnation.
'We expect Germany to suffer severe economic reversals in the next decade,' the Decade Forecast states.
It wasn't long ago that European unity seemed like an unstoppable historical force, with political and economic barriers between countries dissolving and regionalism and nationalism phasing out of the continent's politics.
In ten years, that may all seem like a distant memory. The Decade Forecast talks about four Europes that will becoming increasingly estranged from one another: western Europe, eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and the British islands. They will still have to share the same neighbourhood, but they won't be as closely connected as they were before.
'The European Union might survive in some sense, but European economic, political and military relations will be governed primarily by bilateral or limited multilateral relationships that will be small in scope and not binding,' the report states. 'Some states might maintain a residual membership in a highly modified European Union, but this will not define Europe.'
Several Arab countries are in a state of freefall, and the Decade Forecast doesn't see the chaos ending any time soon. The major beneficiary from all of this will be Turkey, a strong, relatively stable country whose borders stretch from the Black Sea all the way down to Syria and Iraq.
Turkey will be reluctant to intervene in conflicts on its borders but will inevitably have to, according to the forecast. As Ankara's strength and assertiveness increases relative to its neighbours, the country will become an indispensable US partner.
But Turkey will want something in return: a line of defence against a certain country on the other side of the Black Sea that has military bases in neighbouring Armenia. Turkey will want the US's help in keeping Moscow out of its backyard.
'Turkey will continue to need US involvement for political and military reasons,' the report states. 'The United States will oblige, but there will be a price: participation in the containment of Russia. The United States does not expect Turkey to assume a war-fighting role and does not intend one for itself. It does, however, want a degree of cooperation in managing the Black Sea.'
China may have a rough decade ahead as economic growth slows, leading to widespread discontent towards the ruling Communist Party. But the party won't liberalize, which means its only viable option for controlling the gathering chaos while remaining in power will be to increase internal oppression.
There's another, perhaps even bigger problem facing Beijing: China's growth hasn't been geographically distributed very evenly. Coastal cities are thriving but China's interior has less access to international markets and is comparatively much poorer. That problem's only going to get worse as China continues to urbanize.
'The expectation that the interior -- beyond parts of the more urbanized Yangtze River Delta -- will grow as rapidly as the coast is being dashed,' the report states. And the growing rift between China's coast and its interior could presage even deeper, more ominous splits.
As the report notes, regional fissures have been a persistent driver of political chaos throughout China's entire history and there is an unlikely but 'still conceivable outcome in which political interests along the coast rebel against Beijing's policy of transferring wealth to the interior to contain political unrest.'
Japan has a maritime tradition going back centuries and as an island nation, it's pretty dependent on imports. China is building a state-of-the-art navy of its own, and may become even more aggressive in controlling shipping routes in the East China Sea, South China Sea, and Indian Ocean that Japan depends upon.
Japan will have no option but to project power into the region to counter China and protect its supply routes. With US power waning, it will have to do this on its own.
'Right now (Japan) depends on the United States to guarantee access,' the forecast states. 'But given that we are forecasting more cautious US involvement in foreign ventures and that the United States is not dependent on imports, the reliability of the United States is in question. Therefore, the Japanese will increase their naval power in the coming years.'
The regional powers will decide that South China Sea island disputes aren't worth a major military escalation, but they will still be a symptom of a hazardous power dynamic.
'Fighting over the minor islands producing low-cost and unprofitable energy will not be the primary issue in the region,' the report predicts. 'Rather, an old three-player game will emerge. Russia, the declining power, will increasingly lose the ability to protect its maritime interests. The Chinese and the Japanese will both be interested in acquiring these and in preventing each other from having them.'
Great Power dynamics are returning to East Asia, even if it might not result in armed conflict in the South China and East China seas.
China's economy will slow down and growth in its production capacity will flatline. That's actually good news for a handful of countries. The entry-level manufacturing jobs that China used to gobble up will migrate to 16 emerging economies with a combined population of 1.15 billion.
So while China's growth will slow down, leading to unforeseeable political and economic consequences, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Indonesia could see improving economic fortunes over the next decade as more manufacturing jobs arrive.
With the world becoming an even more disorderly and unpredictable place over the next 10 years, the US will respond by being increasingly judicious about how it picks its challenges rather than taking an active leadership role in solving the world's problems.
With a growing economy, surging domestic energy production, declining exports, and the safety of being in the most stable corner of the world, the US will mostly try to insulate itself against possible crises. While this more restrained US role in global affairs will make the world an even less predictable place, it's a reality that other countries will just have to contend with.
'The United States will continue to be the major economic, political and military power in the world but will be less engaged than in the past,' the forecast says. '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.'
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