As early as 2035, the United States could find itself in a much less dominant world role, possibly even usurped in military and economic power by states such as Russia and China, according to a new report from the Pentagon’s research division.
In what could jointly be considered a warning for the U.S. officials as well as a potential excuse to inflate the country’s military budget, the Department of Defense’s Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) paints a dire picture of a “disordered and contested” world in which America begins to slump from its position as the world’s sole superpower.
According to the report, titled “Joint Operating Environment 2035”:
“A range of competitors will confront the United States and its global partners and interests. Contested norms will feature adversaries that credibly challenge the rules and agreements that define the international order [...] Confrontations involving contested norms and persistent disorder are likely to be violent, but also include a degree of competition with a military dimension short of traditional armed conflict.”
“The future World Order will see a number of states with the political will, economic capacity, and military capabilities to compel change at the expense of others.”
Though assessing national security threats could be considered standard operating procedure, this report comes conveniently as the U.S. somewhat surreptitiously steps up its — proven false — narrative of Russian aggression. As NATO assembles several thousand troops along Russia’s borders under the auspices of member-state protectionism, Russia has repeatedly warned the encroachment would not be taken lightly.
Over-anxious Baltic states and Poland — including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia — have requested and received additional insulation in the form of several thousand NATO ground troops along their borders with the U.S.’ old Cold War foe for the purposes of “defense and deterrence.” This, despite General Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, admitting in June,
“It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broadscale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing.”
And Russia isn’t the only sovereign nation in whose affairs the U.S. continues to perilously meddle.
As Americans debate the finer points of presidential election-rigging, the Pentagon has inserted itself in a longstanding territorial dispute over both waters and islands in the South China Sea under the familiar guise of protecting nervous allies — in this case, India and the Philippines.
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Beginning in October, the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier and a number of warships to the hotly contended waters — an act taken as military provocation by China. As an assumed additional show of readiness to that aggression, China recently released six-year-old video of a missile launch and announced new quantum communications technology whose employment as military surveillance cannot be overlooked.
Not surprisingly, the JOE report flatly ignores steadied analyses contrary to the theories of Russian and Chinese aggression, instead noting:
“It is likely that Russia will continue to use the threat of military power to secure regional interests and promote perceptions that it is still a great power. Iran will continue to develop and leverage regional proxies and partners. Meanwhile China might a more dynamic and adaptive maritime stratagem in an attempt to impose irreversible outcomes for island disputes in the East and South China Seas.”
And, later, it continues:
“While most rising powers are likely to focus on gaining greater access and influence within the current international system, some states will be willing to use violence or coercion to revise certain aspects of the international order [...]
“Rising powers include for example, China, Russia, India, Iran, or Brazil have increasingly expressed dissatisfaction with their roles, access, and authorities within the current international system.”
Although the Pentagon’s report ostensibly comprises threats nearly 20 years in the future, President Obama’s nuclear weapons modernization budget — which tops the astonishing $1 trillion mark — has, in the eyes of critics, needlessly stoked a de facto renewed arms race, this time with an alarming caveat:
“The increased spending on U.S. nuclear weapons is already provoking similar responses from Russia and China,” advised David Culp, legislative representative with the Quaker-affiliated Friends Committee on National Legislation, as cited by the Intercept last month. “We are slowly slipping back into another Cold War, but this time on two fronts.”
Despite Culp’s and multiple other critics’ warnings to let cooler heads prevail, the FOE report evidences the alarms landed on deaf ears.
“Over the next two decades, there will be a significant evolution in long-range strike weapons capable of ranging the U.S. homeland. Russia will modernize its land, air, and sea-based intercontinental nuclear forces. China’s recent industrial and economic growth combined with its desire to once again be a regional hegemon and global power may result in new nuclear doctrine emphasizing first use and a counter force approach, versus its current counter value doctrine and capabilities. Future delivery mechanisms might include hypersonic missiles, long-range cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles with maneuverable warheads, all designed to penetrate U.S. defensive systems.”
As various states grow increasingly “dissatisfied” with the “Western notion of international order,” the report states, new and “nontraditional” alliances may be required with “a wide array of actors to include self-governing ethnic groups, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, and perhaps even friendly local militia groups. The search for unanticipated and atypical partners will likely be a common theme, particularly in the early phases of future conflicts.”
Overall, it could be gleaned from the report that the Pentagon has begun to recognize both the precipitous decline of American imperialism and the resultant multi-fronted global threats from years of meddling in sovereign nations’ affairs. Though more traditional allegiances underpin theorized strategies, the DoD apparently realizes the potential for long-term repercussions to ultimately threaten the U.S. on its own turf.