This article from the http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4309f7d4-b737-11dd-8e01-0000779fd18c.html?nclick_check=1 discusses a new report issued by the National Intelligence Council regarding trends in the world through 2025.
"At first glance, the core conclusion – that the world is witnessing the emergence of a new multipolar system – seems unremarkable. But it matters that the president-elect is being told by his foremost intelligence analysts that the US faces relative decline. There are plenty of people in Washington who dismiss such a prospect as the malevolent thinking of woolly-headed Europeans; the more so, perhaps, when France’s Nicolas Sarkozy keeps trumpeting it. In the NIC’s view, the rise of China, India and the rest will mean that by 2025 the US will be “one [my emphasis] of a number of important actors on the world stage, albeit still the most powerful”. For more than 200 years, even when challenged, the US has been a rising power. The adjustment will not be easy. New great power rivalries, though, are only one part of the emerging picture. Nations face challenges from non-state actors empowered by globalisation. Businesses, religious zealotry, criminal networks and non-governmental organisations are all testing state power.
Overlay these changes, geopolitical and societal, with an array of transnational forces – climate change, terrorism, unconventional weapons proliferation, demographic bulges, migration, resource competition – and you begin to see how complicated things are getting. Add in all the unknowns – of both the known and unknown variety – and you start to get a headache."
"What can be said with moderate certainty is that a global system designed in 1945 will not survive the coming age of discontinuities. An order centred around the political, cultural and economic hegemony of the west can scarcely outlive the redistribution of global power. The rising powers are unlikely to want to tear down the system as did, for example, Germany and Japan during the 20th century. More likely, the trend will be towards fragmentation and instability as the new powers take what they want from the existing order while preserving a freedom of manoeuvre outside it.
This “multipolarity without multilateralism” points to the absence of any over-arching system of global governance. Instead, current trends point to a “patchwork of overlapping, often ad hoc and fragmented efforts” with shifting coalitions of member nations and international organisations undermining the capacity of the United Nations for effective multilateral action. In this respect, the NIC adds, speaking of the “the international order” may become something of a misnomer."