United States, empire in decline
I always loved to immerse myself in predictions about the future of great world powers, changes in the balance of power, GDP growth, millitary strenght and such. Studying political science helped me with that, even more writting a blog on foreign policy, which required some research. You could call it a hobby.
It is of course hard to chart the future development of countries. Much can happen in a year, let alone in decades. For instance, even if the Soviet system was broken, few were able to predict its sudden demise. Stagnation yes, but the disintegration of a whole communist block? It must have seemed unrealistic even to the best of analysts. And yet it happened.
US supremacy is destined to end sometime in the future. Trends are obvious and are not a consequence only of internal American politics and socioeconomic changes. There are other powers in the world, with growth fast enough, to bridge the gap. China comes to mind. Also India and some others. Russians are in a weaker position, as they don’t have the necessary population and are plagued by internal problems, stifling faster economic growth, but they too are keeping themself in a position of great power, allthough incapable to match the Chinese behemoth in the long term.
Americans will not be able to keep their position in world affairs in the decades to come, that is for sure. They know that very well and because of it they are counting on alliances to block their most dangerous competitors. Europeans against Russians, Saudis agaist Iranians, East Asians against Chinese. It is a sound strategy, that counts on combining their declining resources with that of their allies.
I always expected, that when the moment comes, when it dawns on American elites, their golden age is over, response will be a highly agressive, militaristic foreign policy. Formenting revolutions, creating chaos, waging wars. Everything, to prevent their decline. I foresaw a republican president, a big mouth, crazy person, raining fire on American enemies, doing everything in his power, to bring as much misery and destruction to the world in a desperate attempt, to keep the empire of bases functioning and pushRussians, Chinese, Iranians or whoever was a threat, down.
It sounds like Donald Trump, doesn’t it? Yet, I was wrong. There is a big mouthed republican president in office, and there are tensions with North Koreans. He promises to rain fire on Islamic State, he wants to tear up the agreemen with Iran, he keeps US troops in Afghanistan, but in reality, nothing dramatic happens. He sells weapons. To Europeans, Saudis, South Koreans and so on. He creates workplaces at home. He tries to find a way to live with the rising Chinese and would do more with Russia, if he weren’t under attack all the time because of alleged Russian meddling in US presidential elections. Trump is a man of bussiness. What he cares about is trade and where he wants to benefit US economic elites, is tax cuts. That’s it. No wars, that haven’t been there before. He isn’t sending an expeditionary force into Syria, to overthrow Assad, allthough he is keeping the old program of limited US presence on the ground and arming of various rebel groups and the Kurds. His wars are wars he inherited.
When Trump talkes about making America great again, he understands its decline. Yes, sure, things have never been better for United States, but that isn’t enough in a world, where China grows with 7% per year. You can’t compete with growth rates two or three times lower. You must adapt.
When empires decline, there is always a possibility, they will lash out at the world, using their remaining status to prevent changes. Americans have the best armed forces in the world and huge economy, which can support them. For the moment. The urge, to use that strength to destroy competitors, before the odds are against them, must be great and I always thought that will be the end result of American decline. Huge instability in the world, wars and final American defeat against competitors, who will simply outgrow them. How would I think differently of a country so prone to using violence to achieve ther goals in the world? The list of countries, US waged wars against, is very long.
And yet, Trump is different. There is a funny twist, isn’t it. You expect him to attack North Korea, but all he does, is threaten them and then back off, in the process selling weapons to his allies in the region and negotiate with the Chinese. The plan is to make America great again through economic growth and beneficial trade and that is a sound plan. A better one, wars could ever be. Yes, I know, he is a republican president and he tries to protect the top 1%, with tax cuts and all, but that was to be expected. All elites think foremost of themselves, when they are thinking about greatnes of their countries.
I always saw war, most probably a limited one, as a consequence of American decline. How could there be a total war in the age of nuclear weapons? No, not really. But a limited war or more likely, a series of wars on the perimeter of great powers, yes. And yet, Trump seems a different kind of US president. A man with no such wishes, a man counting on bussiness and economic growth and less a man of millitary inteligence apparatus or the deep state, as some call it. And with that, I have some hope, there will be a peaceful transition to a multipolar world, where US is just one of the great powers, not the only one.