WASHINGTON -- Communal tensions flaring among indigenous groups from Mexico to the Amazon. Dozens of Chinese nuclear warheads aimed at the United States. Russia's power in serious decline, its population diminished by 16 million. A cold peace in the Mideast, but transcontinental terrorists attempting devastating attacks with weapons of mass destruction.
Welcome to the year 2015, as characterized in chilling detail by a sweeping new U.S. intelligence report to be released Monday.
As President-elect Bush prepares to take office, the report offers the most specific insight ever provided a new administration about the forces shaping world change.
"Global Trends 2015," the result of an intensive yearlong study involving all branches of the intelligence community as well as many of America's top thinkers, offers sobering predictions about the "drivers," or major forces, that will determine the world of 2015 and beyond.
The dangers are not just from traditional hot spots. Among the report's other predictions: more than 3 billion people, almost half the world's population, living in "water-stressed" regions.
And while new biotechnology will dramatically lengthen average life spans in rich countries, old diseases and their side effects will shorten life spans in some African nations by up to 40 years.
The report was prepared by the National Intelligence Council, the most influential analytic arm of the U.S. intelligence community.
The report is being released to launch a "strategic dialogue" within the government to deal with both the challenges and the opportunities ahead, said CIA Director George J. Tenet, who wrote a letter introducing the report.
The most fundamental shift will be in the world's balance of power, the report predicts.
China and India will be the world's new military powers, based on sheer numbers, growing economic might and technology capabilities.
By 2015, China will have dozens of missiles with nuclear warheads targeting the United States, along with hundreds of shorter-range ballistic and cruise missiles, some with nuclear warheads, for regional use. It also will have purchased technologies -- from the United States, Russia, Israel, Europe and Japan -- to integrate sea and air capabilities against Taiwan and other rivals in the South China Sea, the report says.
Yet a strong China may not be a serious threat. "China will seek to avoid conflict in the region to promote stable economic growth and to ensure internal stability," the report predicts.
Three of the 20th century's major powers will be increasingly diverted by domestic challenges in the early 21st century, the report says.
Russia's expectations as a world leader will be "dramatically reduced," since by 2015 it still won't be able to fully integrate into the global trading system.
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