Here's some Sunday reading for the wonks in the audience. It's a long piece and not easily excerpted but the author offers up plausible scenario for ten years down the line that sums up the theme of the article.
It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from North Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America’s standing in the world remains in steady decline.In other words, thanks to the Bush doctrine we're not number one anymore and the chances are rather good that we never will be again. In fact, if we don't get rid of the influence of the greed obsessed neo-cons and the science-averse theocons in our government, we'll be lucky to hold onto a number three slot. [via]