World Order After Next
Wiping clean and drawing again the face of Power Balancin’ is not unlike gaming players at the club (oh snap!)
India is visually undressing China, China is lustfully stalking on Great Satan’s fully crunk military, while America is winding down her most excellent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and fixing to might maybe (truly – who could say?) do Yemen, Libya and Pakistan.
Is a lo down ho down of Epic proportions betwixt the menage a troi ers like CIA (China India and America) gon get nicc’d up on conflicting conflicts?
Great Satan’s hyperpuissant fan – the Pentagon Map Professor (oh! he got game bay bee!) lays it out to gap shrinkingliciously play it out:
If conflict is such a farfetched scenario, then the “CIA” trio — China, India and America — is spending a whole lot of money on strategic bluster and posturing at a time when the world at large deserves better from each individually and all collectively.:
Globalization is still rapidly expanding Courtney, unleashing all manner of local instabilities in developing regions that are not yet capable of absorbing its revolutionary embrace. China and India are globalization’s lead integrating agents and America its clear policing lead, but actual cooperation among them on running this messy world could be charitably described as embryonic — and more accurately cast as non-existent.:
As for a grand vision in this regard, Washington still sees its only serious allies in Western Europe and industrialized Asia. But as NATO’s Libyan intervention makes clear, the Western alliance has outlived its strategic coherence. Outside of America, the West isn’t having enough babies, and as a result, both our European allies and Japan are now losing workers and stockpiling elders.:
Looking ahead to the post-2030 strategic landscape, when the world will be experiencing all manner of resource and environmental stresses, Europe and Japan cannot be considered serious first-tier candidates for superpower status.
As for the BRICS’ superpower aspirations, you can rule out South Africa due to its widespread poverty, Russia due to its demographics and Brazil because of its gloriously benign security environment, which offers no impetus for creating a superpower-level military.
That leaves us with the China-India-America trio of million-man militaries and world-leading economies to support them. Yes, that’s a crude measure of power at a time when armies are shifting from attrition warfare to system-based strategies, but frankly, drones and precision strikes can only get you so far in settling globalization’s vast frontiers. The “boots on the ground” imperative for nation-building won’t go away just because America, as a result of its recent myopic applications, has grown tired of the necessary task. Armed with billion-plus national populations, both China and India will instinctively throw bodies at problems, as well they should.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that China and India will be able to simply take what they need by force, given their similarly vast needs and their long history of rivalry. Here America will logically act as the offshore balancer across Eurasia and the stabilizing third partner elsewhere.
But the balance of power between the three behemoths will be significantly impacted by some demographic data points. On the subject of labor, rapidly aging China will lose tens of millions of workers by 2030. By contrast, “younger” America will gain a couple dozen million, and truly young India will add well more than 100 million. America will make up for its lack of overall demographic bulk in its per capita income, expected to stand at around $60,000 in 2030, compared to $20,000 for China and $10,000 for India. Yes, America will remain a greatly indebted country, but both China and India will remain tethered to the “ball and chain” that is their impoverished rural poor, which will still be counted in 100-million increments.
Come 2030, the CIA trio will constitute the world’s three most powerful national economies and militaries, with no other entity even coming close to first-tier status. In a logical world, these three will nations realize their greatly overlapping strategic interests and cooperate in running the global economic and security system.
But between now and 2030, we will also witness a series of perceived shifts in that trio’s rank ordering that will exacerbate the already existing tensions in their bilateral and trilateral relations. Indeed, we are experiencing one right now, with many observers perceiving “rising” China as passing a “declining” America, even if others consider that verdict to be premature. Nevertheless, Washington’s eagerness to sell massive amounts of military hardware to anybody in South and East Asia that isn’t China is a good example of the dynamic that such shifts in rank-order, whether real or perceived, can create.:
This is likely only the first of a trio of perceived power shifts to come. The second will result from a combination of the next “morning in America” moment here in the States and China hitting a cluster of inevitable developmental walls — environmental damage, demographic aging, resource constraints and political pluralism, among others. And while there might be little real danger of a U.S.-China military conflict today, imagine the potential for confrontation when China’s rising nationalism combines with the popular anger resulting from the realization that the “Chinese century” lasted less than a generation.
The third power shift is likely to be even harder for China to swallow: India’s pronounced demographic dividend means it will inevitably inherit China’s current status as globalization’s factory floor. Around 2030, India’s labor pool will surpass that of China’s, and by 2050 it will become larger by half. At some point along the way, most probably crystallized by some debilitating large-scale crisis in China, India will permanently dethrone China as the new “rising power” in the global narrative. In that process, America will lose some relative standing, but it won’t create the same kind of fear in the system because of India’s longstanding status as a stable democracy.
There remain two great uncertainties attached to these forthcoming power shifts. First, how will China handle America’s resurrection? And second, how will India handle the onset of its recognized “rise” into first-tier superpower status? What is certain, however, is that “hedging” or “containing” China is both a waste of time and likely to backfire over the long term by creating an unnecessary legacy of resentment and suspicion, because demographically speaking, “the fix” is already in.
Instead, in the coming years, Washington should seek to establish a new “trilateral commission” that swaps out Europe and Japan for India and China. That’s your “new world order” for you, waiting for the shaping that only the U.S., as the incumbent world superpower, can bring about.
A junior studying journalism, military history and political science, Courtney was named one of 2010's "20 Hottest Women in New Media." She also created the infamous diplomatic, military and intelligence analysis site Great Satan's Girlfriend. Her expertise includes interventions, COIN, strategic uses of American power, global democracy promotion, authoritarian marginalization, gender apartheid, international relations theory and terrorism.