If you’re in the mood for a bit of doom and gloom

You could check out this Salon article about inevitable American decline.  While I think American power has fallen from its hyper levels of the 1990s and I’m a sucker for a story about post apocalyptic wastelands, I’m a bit suspicious of forecasting events 20 or 30 years out.  I’m not sure, for example, that I can get behind this:

Faced with a fading superpower incapable of paying the bills, China, India, Iran, Russia, and other powers, great and regional, provocatively challenge U.S. dominion over the oceans, space, and cyberspace.

Why do we suppose that nations like Iran and Russia are going to overcome their very, very serious shortcomings and fill a vacuum left by a retreating U.S.?  Let’s face it, even China has got a lot of structural challenges facing it and those won’t be going away by themselves, regardless of how much WalMart crap they make.   When you have an economy that has to grow 8% (or so) a year just to keep up with population growth and expectations a lot can go wrong.

And I don’t want to say this is impossible but I find this really on the far edges of possible futures:

It’s mid-summer 2014 and a drawn-down U.S. garrison in embattled Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is suddenly, unexpectedly overrun by Taliban guerrillas, while U.S. aircraft are grounded by a blinding sandstorm. Heavy loses are taken and in retaliation, an embarrassed American war commander looses B-1 bombers and F-16 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of the city that are believed to be under Taliban control, while AC-130U “Spooky” gunships rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire…Taliban fighters then launch a series of remarkably sophisticated strikes aimed at U.S. garrisons across the country, sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, U.S. helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops in Kabul and Kandahar.

The scenarios provided all seem to assume American decline (ok, I’ll give you that) with everyone else surging ahead (that one I’m pushing back against).  I suspect non-state actors will continue to gain influence while some nation states will shatter to be replaced by city states, lawless areas or other entities yet unnamed.



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