‘India or US may be No.2 after China in Asian century’

May 20th, 2008 - 11:57 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 20 (IANS) America’s top spymaster sees either India or the US becoming the world’s second largest economy in the next 25 years with China at the top in this century of Asia. But thanks to their positive demographics, the world’s two largest democracies, India and the US, would have a much brighter future, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told graduating students of the George Washington University.

“We’re now projecting the four largest economies in 20-25 years. Now the summary line is - it’s the Century of Asia,” he said Saturday, explaining that the work of the intelligence community is not just spying and counter-spying.

“The number one economy in the world will be China. We’re debating over who’s number two. Is it the United States or is it India? Number four will be Japan, of course,” McConnell said.

“Now if you think about four of the largest economies in the world either being in Asia or having a footprint in Asia, our West Coast, it makes you think about how the next century might unfold,” the spymaster said.

Demographically, China, Japan, Europe, Russia all have negative demographic trends, he said: “Think of it as a cliff that falls off the edge.”

But in the other two, the US and India - demographics are positive - India for its growth rate, its birth rate and the United States for immigration, McConnell said. “For those two reasons India and the United States in addition to being democratic societies that tend to solve problems, it’s a much brighter future.”

As another example of the intelligence agency’s study of world issues and trends, the US intelligence chief declared as other US officials have said before that Al Qaeda had found a safe haven in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).

“Al Qaeda, who wishes this nation great harm, is enjoying a de facto safe haven in a region of Pakistan about the size of New Jersey. They are recruiting people from around the world, to include Europe, to train them to then come back into Europe, the United Kingdom or the United States with a goal of achieving mass casualties greater than 9/11.

“Last year, we observed a cell, we knew who they were, we watched them. Their intent was to have mass casualties in Germany against a US military facility and against a German government facility. We tracked them, we coordinated with the Germans, we arrested them, and they’re in jail today,” he said.

With 1,500 litres of hydrogen peroxide in their possession, they were going to make explosives, commercially available material, to kill lots of people, McConnell said. “We were successful in stopping them.”

The over 100,000 strong US intelligence community with an annual budget in excess of $40 billion is constantly balancing sources and methods and secrecy in its effort to help and protect the US, he said.

“It’s an exciting mission. It’s around the world, from code-breaking to spy satellites to human agents recruiting other human beings,” McConnell said. “We have worked to achieve deep penetration of those who wish us harm. I would argue, it’s very effective.”

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