This chapter highlights important insights from the preceding chapters. We begin with a summary of important domestic and near-abroad challenges for each of the three primary countries. We then describe common or related trends that are important to all of the nations. Finally, we focus on the likely implications for the U.S. defense establishment in general and the U.S. Navy in particular.
The United States has today, and will have into the far term, by far the world’s strongest economy. Unlike China, the United States will “get rich before it gets old.” That does not mean that the United States will not experience significant challenges in 2015 and beyond. U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources shows no sign of changing. Tension resulting from the income disparity between the nation’s rich and poor will also be an issue for future U.S. leaders. The most significant challenge for the United States will be its graying population.
Although the United States is and will remain a rich nation, the sheer scale of the needs of its aging population will put considerable strain on U.S. resources. As an increasing number of Americans enter the retired ranks, massive reallocations of government spending toward Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will take place (unless there is some major change in current U.S. entitlements policy). This reallocation of resources will constrain the nation’s options in other areas,