Who will lead Humanity in the Long Term Future?

Discussion in 'The Thinking Cap' started by Ice, Dec 18, 2016.

  1. Ice

    Ice Map Maker

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    This is a discussion I've wanted to have with Diplo for a long time. It is a community with people all over the world and we've all been influenced by the American way of life. It's adapted the world on a large scale and for good or bad, we all have been affected by it in one way or another. When it comes to looking to the future however, who will cause the next great impact on the world? Before 1991, Japan was thought by a few remote experts to take the world by storm and become the next superpower with a booming economy and large population but unfortunately the Price Bubble eventually collapsed and the country is still being hit by this economic mishap to this day. So, what nations could potentially hit the world's stage and rival the current USA, or even overtake it as the sole superpower?

    China
    Of the list I am going to present, China is likely the best bet. The "Rise of China" has been one of the most common news articles in the 21st century and the country has been slowly growing ever since World War 2. China is even arguably already a superpower who's strength is only rivalled by that of the US and could easily defeat any other nation in an economic, military or political war other than the US. With the largest population in the world at 1.35 billion and in 2014 China overtook the US as the largest economy if measured by Nomial GDP PPP with 21.3 Trillion to the US's 18.6 Trillion. The most worrying thing about China is that it is still growing, for 30 years they were growing by 10% annually but after the 2008 collapse, it fell to around 7%. The Chinese government has said they wish to remove the US's influence in Asia, not agreeing with the influence made by the foreign country on Asian soil.

    However, there are doubts about China. Due to having few friends around them, they are in a difficult situation when it comes to influence and allies and unless they sort these issues out, expanding their reach beyond Asia would be extremely difficult. Other problems they have to face are demographic with an ageing population and a population with more males than females by a ratio to 6:5. Although a dictatorship has done wonders for China on the inside, it does not aid them abroad when coming to diplomacy.

    The jury on China is still out but my personal bet is that we see something become of China eventually and it will likely be sooner than people think.

    The European Union
    The EU is the sole reason I wanted to do this earlier in the year but unfortunately I never got around to it. With the result of Brexit, the idea of a EU superpower has been setback but for the moment and while Britain still remains, I shall humour them as an option especially since the UK leaving the EU doesn't spell disaster for the possibility of an EU superpower, it just means it may take longer.

    Many scholars, academics and even politicians believe that the EU will become a super in this very century and the numbers tend to agree with them. The EU has a large population, the largest economy in the world (If seen as a single state) and a declining love for the US foreign policy in recent years. In some views, the idea of the superpower no longer needs a military in the modern world and that is a thing of the Cold-War-Era. If that is the case, both China and the EU are certainly superpower, but if a military is required for the definition then although China comes closer, the EU may not be far behind. Should Russia or Turkey ever wish to join the EU, the population would rise to around 800 million, causing it to be a true rival to that of India or China. Whether such a future would occur however is doubtful, Russia is happy being an independent state and Turkey current fails to comply to EU regulations and ideals.
    Should Turkey join the EU however, it shall take the EU's level of power to that of the superpower point, providing it with the second largest military in NATO and strengthening the Union in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

    The trouble is, many things are going against the EU. Internally the EU has a lot of a strife to the point where the UK's population held a referendum to leave and Parliament still has to vote upon it. Should the UK stay, the EU has a real chance of patching up these issues and allowing the internal squabbles to be fixed. Other issues in the EU are economic, several member states are in incredible debt and decline, namely Greece. Although the bailouts were thought to recover the country, it has actually made little difference and is suffering as ever and with several member states with shrinking economies and debt, it raises the question whether the individual nations are a weakness or a strength of the union. The dispute in Cyprus also raises a problem for the EU, if Turkey is to ever join then the country would have to become unified, until the negotiation is solved it is unlikely the Asian country would join.

    India
    The land of curry, elephants and our own Mr. Patel. India is a powerful country in the world with a military, nuclear arms and a growing economy and population. In the years to come it will overtake China in both population and nominal GDP if it continues with its 7% growth a year. The advantage of India compared to that of its rivals is the young population rather than an ageing one like that of the EU, China or US. Another advantage is that the country has many English speakers, allowing it to have better diplomatic relations both with the Commonwealth and the US. The country is certainly only going to grow in every manner but a problem has arisen for the nation in the form of poverty which is a similar one that plagues China.
    India is behind China in growth and is not expected to catch up for at least two decades and is struggling internally to manage its growth like its Asian neighbour. The Chinese government listens to the media about the expansion of the country and acts accordingly while India does not. Adult literacy is low and the population as a whole is lacking in a correct education which does not aid the idea of it becoming a superpower.

    Russia
    Putin himself said that he had no intentions of making Russia a superpower but his actions speak otherwise. With taking the Crimea and his intervention of Syria, he is certainly showing Russian muscle on the world's stage again for perhaps the first real time since the fall of the USSR. The country is repairing old ties with countries in the Middle East and Africa, including that of Syria, Egypt and Turkey. Russia has been seen as a superpower in the past and it is of course possible for it to occur again but it is faced with many problems. An ageing/shrinking population, a declining economy since its actions in the Ukraine and high poverty. If climate change hits Russia and melts away the permafrost, it may allow for Russia to use its biggest advantage which is its resources. A thing which no nation on the planet can compete against especially since Russia is almost twice the size of the next biggest country.


    What does Diplo think of the world's future? Do we have another 100 years of US influence?
     
  2. SteakOnSpear

    SteakOnSpear ᛊᛏᛖᚨᚲ ᛟᚾ ᛊᛖᚨᚱ Map Maker

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    China's weekness seems to be how unstable it is.

    Russia just doesn't seem to have the long term capabilities to remain strong. Reason russia is doing so well right now is because of Putin, nobody else can replace him right now.
    But then again, russia does have the best preperations for arctic dominanace which could play a important role in the future with the climate change.
     
  3. Ice

    Ice Map Maker

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    How are they unstable? Not denying it more curious

    Putin has bad points too, there is such a thing as ruling with too heavy a hand. I think he's definitely the right thing for Russia right now, but then it becomes a question for who is best after the country has stabilised.
     
  4. Feanor

    Feanor Member Liaison Officer Global Moderator

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    China is militarily not nearly as strong as you think. They're working hard to catch up but they're still far behind. Then also have major issues with manufacturing things that require quality like jet engines. Chinese jet engines have a massively lower life-span between overhauls. This is why they continue to import huge quantities of Russian engines.

    Japan, despite it's problems, remains the number 3 economy nominal, 4th PPP right after China, USA and India. I wouldn't underestimate their influence. And the Japanese Navy is very powerful. They have been severely limited by their post-WWII government but those shackles are dropping right now. For example they've been far less then enthusiastic on the subject of joining US sanctions against Russia. Instead, as a show of support, they passed a separate sanctions package of their own. Interestingly enough their sanctions don't seem to have much impact on trade between Russia and Japan. In other words, unlike Australia who is a US client state, Japan has become a major power in its own right.

    The main problem with the EU is that it's not a country and most of the members don't have any desire to see it become one. The consensus based framework they have makes it very hard to make decisions in a centralized fashion and makes it surprising easy to exploit disunity within the union. Prime example the sanctions against Russia. The UK, France, and Germany are committed to that course (though things may change in France with a new president). However Italy is leading a pack of discontents who are not. Austria, Finland, Czechia, Hungary, and Bulgaria are all unhappy with the sanctions and want to see them end. Italy in particular has been using their consent to sanctions extensions as leverage to pressure Germany on other questions. Some of these countries have ignored the sanctions in areas they deem important to them, and some have found clever workarounds. What's even more interesting is that Britain found the current level of EU integration to be too much. How on-board would they be with an EU that has the power to command?

    India is definitely a power today and will be a bigger power tomorrow. India and China are honestly the two strongest-looking candidates. However it's important to remember that India is still massively under-developed. Especially infrastructural-wise.

    Russia is not really a candidate for super-power status. It's a great power and will remain one. They've managed to reverse their population shrinkage, the Russian economy even seems to have overcome the western sanctions over the Ukrainian war. They have a major manufacturing sector, and access to a lot of advanced technology. They also have massive resources, and a fairly large population (though smaller then the EU, India or China, they're bigger then Japan). GDP PPP, which is the true way to compare sizes, they come in 6th but that's without considering the massive Russian shadow economy, which could push them over Germany into 5th place. Russia has a lot of political power and a lot of military power but no guiding ideology that would be attractive to others, and a fairly low quality of life due to extremely high income inequality. GDP PPP per capita almost puts Russia in the first world, and if Russia continues to develop, eventually the Russian middle class will demand better governance (and in a capitalist society typically what the middle class really wants, the middle class gets) so we may yet see Russia resurgent but we will likely never see a USSR 2.0. In fact today even if Russia re-united most of the Soviet Republics they would still be in no shape to be a super power. Using the example of Crimea, they'd turn into a massive resource-drain on Russia, as it would take huge amounts of investment to bring those countries up to level of even Russia itself.

    I'd like to add Indonesia to this list. Indonesia looks small because of its location on the globe but it's one of the largest countries on the planet, has a huge population and a rapidly rising GDP. They are far away from being a super power but they will be emerging as a major power, and will likely end up allied to the US just because of the way China is behaving vis-a-vis maritime borders.

    I'd also like to add Brazil. While it's been said that Brazil is the country of the future and will always remain so, there is a definite possibility that Brazil is 7th GDP PPP, right behind Russia. They have a large and growing population and a huge territory. They will be facing considerable challenges in the coming century but there is a definite chance that Brazil will emerge as a super power towards the end of it.
     
  5. Feanor

    Feanor Member Liaison Officer Global Moderator

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    China is made up of multiple ethnicities not all of which are happy being part of China. They're also facing a demographic and an ecological crisis that would open the Chinese leadership to massive criticism. It's going to be a turbulent century for China with no guarantee that it will come out as one country on the other end.

    I liked Medvedev. And he is still the Prime Minister. That having been said, bear in mind the powerful interests behind Putin. They can certainly put forward someone.
     
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  6. Ice

    Ice Map Maker

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    China has the third strongest military on the planet. Sure, it might not be as good as the two countries with stronger militaries but third is still third. Surely learning how to make jet engines is a skill and skills can be learned? That is a mild inconvience I would think in the scale of becoming a super power.

    Japan is still being hit by 1991, yes they have a large economy but they can never become a superpower. I didn't deny they weren't a powerful country, I actually think they're incredibly powerful but to become a superpower would require a dramatic population growth due to their population stagnating and also being predominately over the age of 45. If you look at their younger population, it's tiny and in fact last year their population shrank by 0.7%.

    I agree that the EU has problems, Hitler actually said that the fact that everyone in Europe had different ideas and this would never allow them to unify and be able to rival that of the States. I think however when it comes to Britain and the immigration thing, it's a generational thing. The majority of the young population believes in the idea of the EU and it's mostly older folk who disagree with it and have rose tinted spectacles about life before the EU.

    I'm not doubting India being powerful but they are having so many delays compared to China, they are at least 30 years behind and only in 2008 were they starting to catch up. They have to overcome a lot of problems that I'm not even sure is capable. They will soon have overpopulation problems like China started to have. They have raging poverty and are completely separated upon their ideas of their future.

    Previously on Diplo we've spoken about how PPP can be a terrible way to measure the strength of a country's economy but I will admit that in this case it's probably the best way to look at it. Russia I think will only get stronger and not weaker. I think the worst days of Russia are behind them and their strength is only going to grow. This time around they can choose better allies and maybe expand their power further. To be a superpower, they don't need to absorb all the previous USSR colonies and I think that's the biggest issue with what you're looking at. They're 42%ish bigger than the US and about 7% of the country is arable. They have all the things they need to be a superpower and I think it's just time. They have the land and the resources and the technology, as long as they keep updating their tech and they keep growing, you cannot really say Russia is out of the fight. I think they definitely have a large enough population, the US became a superpower with 130 million ish people and although there are more people in the world now than back then, America still manages it and Russia can too if they play it right.

    I don't know enough about Indonesia to really say anything about them but I know they're well educated with a growing population but isn't a large part of their economy agriculture? I'm not sure a superpower can survive on an economy where 35% of it is based on agriculture.

    I deliberately left Brazil off the list because I knew it would come up. Brazil has a lot of issues to deal with and although a power in South America, it struggles to have influence elsewhere. They have no real military and even don't have the population advantage of China or India yet have the same poverty issues. Goldman Sachs made a prediction of BRIC country growth and in 2050, Brazil won't have even reached the US' economy of 2010. That's very far behind and if they're to ever be a superpower it'll be in the 2090s or even 22nd century. One of the problems with BRIC however is it assumes that resources are unending and for Brazil, their resources are certainly less than that of the US, China, India and Russia. For decades people expected things of Brazil and things never came.
     
  7. Gwaiin

    Gwaiin Professional Dumbass

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    None of the above, our glorious emperor will reveal himself and lead us all into a golden age of technology.
     
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  8. farglin

    farglin Here

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    The EU can't be a military and humanitarian superpower simultaneously. Germany/France would have to economically take hostage unwilling countries in the Visegrad group and force other countries,such as Italy, who don't have the stomach for war to go to war. I remember Obama was pissed that the European countries couldn't even land on Libya's shores, an example of the pathetic state of their military at the moment. The first total war the EU loses it would collapse 2nd Reich style, which would destroy many countries economically creating multiple Weimars. Not good since we know what the Weimar breeds. At the moment EU countries can barely police the migrant influx, they can't fight a war in a state like that which due to climate change is only going to worsen. The EU wont be leading, it will probably only degrade with its only purpose to stop war between European countries, that is the only positive of the EU even the Euro-skeptics can agree with..
     
  9. SteakOnSpear

    SteakOnSpear ᛊᛏᛖᚨᚲ ᛟᚾ ᛊᛖᚨᚱ Map Maker

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    Another superpower can truly emerge without some kind of war.
    The rich countires have a huge advantage over the poor ones. That's not gonna change without some kind of disaster.
    Clinate change is going to be worse for equatorial and less developed countires.
     
  10. Feanor

    Feanor Member Liaison Officer Global Moderator

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    Military power isn't a national penis that you can just measure. China has a large military but very limited force projection capability, and the lack of allies means it's hard for them to do what Russia did in Syria, rely on a local airbase. But jet engines are just an example. Despite working on what they claim are 5th gen fighters, China has once again begun importing Russian 4.5th gens suggesting they lack confidence in their own programs. There are other indicators, like the fact that Chinese destroyers have less hitting power then new Russian frigates, or the fact that despite producing and offering relatively modern tanks for export, a large chunk of their military still operates T-55 clones. There's even the shit-show performance of their tank at the recent tank biathlon, suggesting manufacturing quality issues extend far beyond aviation.

    It remains to be seen, but it's no guarantee that this trend continues.

    It's mostly national political elites who are the obstacle. They are most opposed to being told what to do, and have no reason to consent to a new EU format where that would change. And keep in mind there's a big difference between believing in the idea of the EU as a union of nation-states, and having the EU federalize and letting bureaucrats from Brussels decide things for you.

    Yes but they don't have the massive demographic problem or the deep-rooted ethnic unrest that China has. Strictly speaking "Chinese" isn't even one ethnicity. They have a lot of the same potential that China does, and somewhat fewer problems.

    We're not measuring strength. Or at least I wasn't. I was measuring size. I thought I was fairly explicit about this.

    Sadly Russia doesn't have any allies in the medium term. Their alliance with Iran, in Syria, is situational. And their relationship with China is complex. Neither really trusts the other, and it's not at all clear that they would go to war for each other. The most we have so far is China providing economic assistance to Russia, sabotaging western efforts to isolate Russia economically.

    I guess it depends on what you mean by super power. Russia has huge corruption issues, a relatively weak consumer base, and a gigantic geographic and climatological problem. We're headed for some rough times, and despite recent gains, Russia is not well prepared to weather them. Russia would be wisest to tread carefully in the coming conflict, and to avoid being at the center of it. But Putin's recent foreign policy moves have indicated otherwise. Russia's already had two "Patriotic" wars. It might not survive a third.

    Everyone's economy starts out based on agriculture. We're talking about potential.

    Truth is they don't seem to have a recipe for success at this point. I thought I'd include them in the discussion because once again the potential is there. The question is whether they continue to putter along as they have been, or whether something changes. A new government, maybe a new type of government. I'm not saying it's likely, but it can't be discounted. And they don't have some of the problems that China and India face, meaning while they're further off now, they also have fewer hurdles to jump to get there.
     
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  11. SteakOnSpear

    SteakOnSpear ᛊᛏᛖᚨᚲ ᛟᚾ ᛊᛖᚨᚱ Map Maker

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    Brazil real advantage over china and india is their culture. Portogueise culture although south european still more modern than india and way more than china.
    Disadvantage is the damn worthless jungle that is brazil. So terrible for agriculture.
     
  12. ChocolaTea

    ChocolaTea

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    I think the United States will continue to lead for quite some time. It has established dominance, and the system of governance/diplomacy through intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations, NATO, World Bank, etc. Hegemony in politics and thus "leadership of Humanity" could continue for at least another hundred years.

    All before-mentioned countries are certainly contenders for the superpower status; however, I disagree that just qualifying for superpower status would bring them in contention with the current status quo of American leadership in Global Politics. In essence, a strong country leads through the framework it builds with other countries and not through pure strength alone.
    Even countries that one could consider already a superpower (and agreements on which countries are, are widely disputed) may still only have minimal influence on leading Humanity. It is certain that some superpower states could have a greater influence on their surrounding neighbours or regions, but such things are still within the reach of the United States given by their worldwide military bases, intelligence on and connection with countries in the particular regions, and the undoubted reliability of these countries on the United States for aid whether economically or militarily.

    The stability of the intergovernmental organisations are a major reason for the continued intervention/oversight of American politics with the world.
    The United Nations will likely persist for some time, as it includes almost all nations on Earth and leaving such an organisation would only be detrimental. The "Big Five" have judicial oversight of any actions that the U.N. could partake in, where power is largely shared among the five; as such, every power is checked.
    N.A.T.O is arguably more important to the U.S in their foreign relations and control over the leadership of Humanity. It includes powers from the European Union, and acts as the Core of Western power. Recently, there have been wanes in the actions of its members, but no doubt America still holds the reins and will continue to do so. This is because of the nature of the pact, which secures the members borders and ensures good economic relations, as well as safeguards against possible foreign threats. The greatest threat here is not the disbandment of such organisation, but rather the formation of an outer entity which could rival that of N.A.T.O.
    Finally, the World Bank is another powerhouse that the United States leads in because of its greatest shareholding power and thus their power to nominate the organisation's president. With the power to loan, this financial institution will remain as a powerful tool for the United States to control infrastructure development across the developing world.

    In conclusion, though some powers may have their nominal influence over a small region of the world, America will continue to be the leader of Humanity in the future for at least the coming one hundred years due to powerful existing establishments which dabble in the economic and political matters, and a superior military sector that reaches across the globe.
     
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  13. EagleMan

    EagleMan Administrator Admin Map Maker

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    I think the U.S. will continue to lead for some time, but its grip on being the world leader will become much more tenuous. In part due to growing sentiment for isolationist policies in the U.S. and other countries starting to assert themselves. I would also say that Trump's presidency is going to be a major X factor for this sort of question. His foreign policy is unlikely to be like what we've seen for a while, but we don't know what it will be. A cozy relationship with Russia, a reelection, and a followup on his anti-Chinese sentiment could mean that China's growing influence gets shackled.

    The EU has a lot of internal strife as said, but Trump's also said things to make many members of NATO and the EU nervous. As such, the EU may be motivated to bolster their military capabilities and get their act together organizationally if they don't think they can rely on America as much, especially if Trump is cozy with Russia.
     
  14. SteakOnSpear

    SteakOnSpear ᛊᛏᛖᚨᚲ ᛟᚾ ᛊᛖᚨᚱ Map Maker

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    Everytime a super power like Persian, Ottoman or Roman Empire fell. There always was a huge declining periode with a lot of unfortunante things happening. And those powers were ruled by dictator dynasties almost for millenias. With a much more stable and secure form of government, democracy, it would make no sense that it could flip as suddenly as superpowers seemingly have in the past. I think there is gonna be a long natural shift as things look now.
     
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