I just read an article in Time by Harvard professor Joseph Nye about hard and soft power in international relations. He outlines changes in recent years, caused by shifts in national strengths and weaknesses and the rise of information technology. He explains difficulties facing governments, especially leading nations, because of easy access to technology and information.
I had a thought...
Predictions of the collapse of the American Empire and rising supremacy of China may be premature. In my mind (despite my continued harping on the country's shortcomings/failings), the US still has three major advantages.
First of all, it has the ability to fed all its citizens and have plenty left over to export. China has trouble feeding a growing population even with massive imports. A hungry population is a restive population.
Second is the dominance of the military industrial capability. China may have a huge army, all sitting a long way from the United States, and a minuscule navy. It will be easy to batten down the hatches and weather any storm (because of point one).
Third, and not mentioned in the above article, is the US dominance in information technology. Industrial capability may have declined, but many intellectual properties have been flourishing. Microsoft has been a leader for years, and Apple is growing everywhere. Google is the leader in search, but other machines are also American. Twitter and Facebook, used so effectively in recent uprisings around the world, have all come from a still-free creative environment. (One arena where the US has fallen behind is genetic engineering. Short-sighted rulings during the Bush/Evangelical Christian era set the country back decades).
The race is not over...and it won't be, until the human race manages to do what Jon Stewart outlines in his book Earth....