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News to Ponder 1-18-2009

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  • News to Ponder 1-18-2009

    Pakistan going up in smoke does not bother me on a political leve, but Mexico falling apart does!!--Rusty

    Mexico, Pakistan face 'rapid and sudden' collapse: Pentagon

    Report tries to forecast 25 years into the future
    Peter Goodspeed, National Post Published: Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Farooq Naemm/AFP/Getty ImageA bomb blast hits a hotel in Pakistan. Radical Islamic elements threaten Pakistan's stability, says a Pentagon report.

    A new Pentagon report that tries to predict the type of challenges the U.S. military will face over the next 25 years warns that Mexico and Pakistan could face a "rapid and sudden" collapse.
    "The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels," the assessment of worldwide security threats says. "How that international conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state."
    "Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone," it adds. However, a similar scenario in Pakistan would be catastrophic.
    "Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons," the report says. "That ‘perfect storm' of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger."
    While most of the world's weak and failing states present chronic problems for military planners, the report's authors say the real dangers come when troubled states implode
    They point to the breakup of Yugoslavia into a tangle of warring nationalities in the 1990s to demonstrate how suddenly and catastrophically such a thing can happen.
    Trying to glimpse 25 years into the future, to 2030 and beyond, the U.S. military's Joint Operations Command predicts a world filled with radical technological, strategic and economic challenges, where "our enemy's capabilities will range from explosive vests worn by suicide bombers to long-range precision-guided cyber, space and missile attacks."
    "The threat of mass destruction -- from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons -- will likely expand from stable nation-states to less stable states and even non-state networks," the report says. Here are some of its predictions:
    The world's population will grow by more than 60 million a year, with 95% of the increases in developing countries.
    As the developing world struggles to cope with rising expectations and a "youth bulge," the developed world will confront acute ageing problems.
    The performance of the global economy will be crucial in dampening down or inflaming violence because volatile regions such as the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, where the "youth bulge" will reach more than 50% of the population, will have fewer inhibitions about engaging in conflict.
    Expect severe shortages. By 2012 "surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach 10 million barrels a day."
    "The implications for future conflict are ominous," it says. "If the major developed and developing states do not undertake a massive expansion of production and refining capabilities, a severe energy crunch is inevitable."
    Between now and 2030, worldwide demand for energy will increase 50%. New sources, such as wind and solar power, are unlikely to account for more than 1% of global energy by 2030 and fossil fuels will continue to account for 80%.
    A prolonged energy crisis could exacerbate other world tensions, triggering a global economic crisis, and pushing fragile and failing states toward collapse.
    Oil production from Canada's oil sands could quadruple from one million to four million barrels a day, but only if U.S. lawmakers decide to remove legal restrictions that bar the United States from buying alternative fuels with higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional sources.
    Islamist terror
    The war on terror will continue for at least another 25 years since the forces propelling radical Islam are not expected to dissipate.
    But a spinoff from a prolonged energy crisis could see windfall oil profits making their way into terrorist coffers or into the hands of anti-Western movements and coalitions.
    "Commanders could find themselves operating in environments where even small, energy-rich opponents have military forces with advanced technological capabilities," the report says. "These could include advanced cyber, robotic and even anti-space-based systems."
    U.S. dominance in world affairs will be challenged in the next 25 years by the emergence of other powerful states. China's rise will be the "most significant single event on the international horizon since the collapse of the Cold War."
    "Present trends suggest that the era of the United States as the sole superpower may be coming to an end," the study says.
    "The course that China takes will determine much about the character and nature of the 21st century -- whether it will be another ‘bloody century,' or one of peaceful co-operation."
    In terms of gross domestic product, by 2030 China will have the capacity "to afford military forces equal or superior to current U.S. capabilities."
    But with a vast growing population and rising expectations, its leaders may focus more on economic development.
    "An unsuccessful China is perhaps more worrisome than a prosperous one," the study says. "A serious global economic downturn might force China into dangerous directions."
    The country could see its power and influence ebb. Its infrastructure is crumbling and it has one of the world's worst life expectancy rates (59 years for men, or 148th, between East Timor and Haiti).
    A dangerous mix of paranoia, nationalism and bitterness over lost influence could result in an aggressive Russia trying to reassert itself in the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Baltic.
    India's population will grow by 320 million to more than 1.4 billion in the next 25 years and the country could more than quadruple its wealth. But large numbers of its people will stay poor, the study says.
    Africa will remain mired in poverty and corruption and exploited by external powers hungry for the continent's resources.
    "Even pockets of economic growth are under pressure and may soon regress," the study predicts. "Relatively weak African states will be very hard-pressed to resist pressure by powerful state and non-state actors who embark on a course of interference."
    Middle East/Central Asia
    The area will remain the centre of world instability.
    Long-dormant conflicts over borders, territories, water rights and radical Islam will roil the region from Morocco to Pakistan through Central Asia.
    "If the Middle East continues on its troubled path, it is likely the war on terrorism will not continue on its current levels but could actually worsen," the study says.
    "Whatever the outcome of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. forces will find themselves again employed in the region on numerous missions ranging from regular and irregular war, relief and reconstruction, to engagement operations