Uneven economies, demographics and bad governance combined with the proliferation
of missiles, weapons of mass destruction and large regional armies pose a significant
challenge to the United States, said Kenneth Knight, chief of the defense warning
office for the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Knight, speaking at a missile defense conference, said that the United States
is seen by its adversaries as the source of trouble in the world.
“We are the center of gravity in this emerging world,” he said.
However, those views could change if the U.S. is successful in Iraq and Afghanistan,
“Maybe [it will shake] future perceptions,” said Knight.
Adversaries are becoming adept at coping with U.S. military power. They are
learning how to exploit public opinion as well as fighting in asymmetrical ways—deploying
in complex terrain and avoiding decisive engagements, he added.
Even outer space, which the United States has controlled, may soon be exploited
by future enemies.
“Any potential adversary will have access [to space] through international
consortia,” Knight said.
Most of the regions and conflicts that America needs to be concerned about
are in the Middle East, including Iraq (a continued terrorist threat), the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, Iran, Pakistan and internal problems in Afghanistan. Other nations
of concern include North Korea, Columbia, Venezuela, and the ongoing conflict
between India and Pakistan, said Knight.
Knight is also concerned with development of and acquisition of Intercontinental
Ballistic Missiles and WMDs by countries around the world. For example, China
is intent on expanding its strategic capabilities, he said.
“What does China hope to get out of its nuclear capabilities? That’s
a concern to me,” he said.
Russia, which has half the military strength of its Cold War days, still retains
an effective deterrent—its nuclear capability, Knight said. “But
will [Russia] rely on nukes with its military in disarray?”