Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Future of American Power

The Future of American Power

This past week has been the seventieth anniversary of D-Day and a number of things have come together to make me think I need to put my thoughts down. Not about D-Day but about the future, particularly the future of American power. This is different to most of what I write because it doesn't concern Conservatism or any other political philosophy, but instead concerns grand strategy and the future shape of the world.

The United States is the most powerful country on Earth, not many would dispute that. It still has the largest economy, largest Navy and Air Force, some would argue the most powerful Army, even if it isn't the biggest and we haven't mentioned it's nuclear might. It has a population of 300 million with the highest stand of living and still has large amounts of natural resources. It also has enormous cultural influence and it's currency is seen as the world standard. Much of the same could once have been said of the British Empire, but that empire is now gone and in many ways Britain is living off the prestige of that empire. That is not to say modern Britain doesn't have power or influence, it does, but nothing compared to what it once had. It has been fortune for all the English speaking countries that one English speaking country, with all of the common culture and shared heritage, was replaced by another English speaking country as the worlds most powerful country.    

Sadly the United States as a Superpower is nearing the time when it will no longer be able to remain a Superpower. A Superpower being defined as a nation that is widely regarded, even by it's enemies as a world leader. The British Empire wasn't a Superpower, but the Soviet Union was, because it was regarded by even it's enemies as a world leader. But the British Empire was the most powerful of a range of other great powers, France and Russia for example.I am not suggesting that the United States will fall into obscurity, but it will lose it's Superpower status.

The United States will lose it's Superpower status for two broad reasons. 1) It is not doing anything to seriously retard or stop it's declining power & 2) other nations are rising in power relative to the United States. That means that within most of our lifetimes, we will see a return to what existed before WWII, a number of great powers. The most likely of the great powers are Europe (or some type of European power, maybe NATO), Russia, India, China and the United States. An argument can be made against each of these being a great power and they have merit, but I believe that each will find a place in the future international order.

I haven''t yet set out why American power is declining so let me do so here. The United States, like much of the West has a number of serious issues that no one in power, or likely to gain power has any idea of how to address. The cheapening of university education and the coming destruction of higher education. The lose of confidence in both Liberal economics and democratic institutions. The large debt that no one has any idea of how to pay, but that hasn't stopped more money from being borrowed or printed, each dangerous in it's own way. Mass immigration and mass illegal immigration, each a problem and for Superpower status it both shows the weakness of the American state, it cannot even enforce it's own laws, but it also changes the population and that common culture and heritage is destroyed. The assumptions that one once made about the United States cannot be made anymore, just as happened with Britain.

It will take time for these things to occur but unless something makes them change this is what will happen. I think it will be a much worse world than the one we currently live in because for all of the faults of the United States it does stand by it's Allies and it will help even non Allies if they need assistance. Nothing contributes to world stability more than the idea that the United States is the most powerful country on Earth. If China or India were the most power country would they do the same? I do not believe that they would, they are much more isolationist than the United States is. When the United States ceases to be a Superpower, we will miss it much more than we think.

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  1. because for all of the faults of the United States it does stand by it's Allies

    Unfortunately the United States has never been a particularly trustworthy ally. The US abandoned South Vietnam to its fate. South Vietnam could have survived if the US had honoured its promises of continuing financial aid and its promises to order air strikes against North Vietnam if it failed to abide by the peace terms negotiated in Paris.

    China has been encroaching on the territorial waters of its neighbours, particularly Japanese. The US has failed to support its allies once again. If it's a choice between China and Taiwan or China and Japan and there's no question the US will abandon its traditional allies.

    No ally can truly rely on the US because no Democrat Administration can ever be trusted. As far back as 1945 the Roosevelt Administration betrayed its allies and the people of eastern Europe. The Truman Administration betrayed China to the Communists.

    If it came to a choice between China and Australia the US would stab us in the back.

    I'd put more trust in Russia than in the US.

  2. Dear Mr. Doom

    Trusting Russia over the United States is very foolish. But let us look at each charge in turn.

    A charge can be made that the United States betrayed South Vietnam. One I agree with, I think South Vietnam was sold out but don't forget we fought in that war as well and the United States stood by Vietnam much longer than we did. This was a massive failure of US policy and promises made to South Vietnam were not kept, this is hard to defend.

    The United States has had many opportunities to cut Taiwan loose and it has not done so, the United States has come close to war with China over Taiwan so to suggest that the United States has not stood by Taiwan is wrong. As for Japan the United States has been a loyal Ally, I do not agree at all that Japan has not been supported by the United States.

    The United States wanted Eastern Europe to have Democratic Governments, the Soviet Union wanted them to have Communist Governments. The Soviets had 300 divisions in control of Eastern Europe and the United States had none, this is called real politics and it beats wishful thinking which is what both the East Europeans and the Americans were doing.

    The Truman administration did not betray China, China became Communist because the Communists succeeded in doing two things the Kuomintang failed in. 1) they convinced the educated classes that only the Communists could restore China and 2) they militarily defeated the Kuomintang. The Kuomintang lost China, not the Americans, they never had China to lose.

    No country can be entirely safe from betrayal, it is a possibility. I just think it is very far fetched.

    Mark Moncrieff