Would we have reached this crucial moment when the declining hyperpower begins to doubt itself? The American press has just recounted what former President Jimmy Carter told Donald Trump during their recent meeting. The White House tenant invited his predecessor in order to talk to him about China, and Jimmy Carter publicly reported about the content of this meeting during a Baptist assembly in Georgia. It’s a real nugget.
“You fear that China is going ahead, and I agree with you. But do you know why China is going beyond us? I normalised diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war. The United States is the most warlike nation in the history of the world” due to a desire to impose American values on other countries, and he suggested that China is investing its resources into projects such as high-speed railroads instead of defence spending.
How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country? We have wasted $3 trillion in military spending. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way. And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you’d probably have $2 trillion left over. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing. We’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong.”
That such common sense has never brushed against the mind of an American leader speaks volumes about the nature of power in this country. Undoubtedly it is difficult for a state that accounts for 45% of global military expenditure and has 725 military bases abroad, where arms manufacturers control the deep state and determine an accountable foreign policy of 20 million deaths since 1945, to question its pathological relationship with armed violence. “The war in Vietnam,” said Martin Luther King once, “is a symptom of the disease of the American spirit, whose pillars are racism, materialism, and militarism”.
But this question is mainly concerns the future. By the fault of their leaders, is the US doomed to know the fate of those empires that sank because of their excessive ambitions, literally asphyxiated by the exorbitant weight of military spending? At the end of his term in 1961, President Eisenhower denounced with prophetic accents the military-industrial complex that put a leaden weight on American society. He did not care about the fate of people starved, invaded or bombed by Uncle Sam in the name of democracy and human rights anymore than Donald Trump or Barack Obama. But like Jimmy Carter today, he probably sensed that the arms race would undoubtedly be the main cause of the decline of the empire.
Because the neoconservatives and other “Doctor Strangelove” of the Pentagon, for several decades, have not only rhymed liberal democracy with mass massacre in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, not to mention the killings orchestrated in the shadows by the CIA and its branches – from the extermination of the Indonesian left (500,000 dead) to the exploits of Guatemalan death squads (200,000 dead), to the blood baths executed on behalf of the empire by lobotomised planetary jihad. The strategists of the containment of communism with napalm shots, then the wizard-apprentices of constructive chaos by importing terror, in fact, have not only set the planet ablaze and covered it in blood.
Puppets of the deep American state, these warmongers who have established themselves in Congress, in the White House, and in neocon think tanks, have also plunged American society into an interior stagnation that barely masks the frenetic use of the banknote plate. Because if the warmongering of the United States is the expression of their decline, then it is also the cause. It is an expression of this when, in order to stop this decline, the brutality of military intervention, economic sabotage, and false flag operations is the hallmark of American foreign policy. It is the cause of it when the outrageous inflation of military spending sacrifices the development of a country where the rich become richer and the poor become more and more numerous.
While China invests in civilian infrastructure, the United States is abandoning its own for the benefit of the arms industries. Washington does rodomontade outside, but lets the country disintegrate inside. The GDP per capita is huge, but 20% of the population lives in poverty. The prisons are full: American prisoners account for 25% of the prisoners on the planet. 40% of the population is struck by obesity. The life expectancy of Americans (79.6 years) has passed behind that of the Cubans (80 years). How can a small socialist country, subject to an embargo, do better than a gigantic capitalist power crowned by its planetary hegemony? We have to assaume that in the US the health of the plebs is not the major concern of the elites.
Skilful competitor, Donald Trump won the 2016 elections by promising to restore the greatness of the United States and committing to restore jobs lost due to unbridled globalisation. But the results obtained, in the absence of structural reforms, inflict a cold shower on his incantatory ardor. The trade deficit with the rest of the world has exploded in 2018, beating a historic record ($891 billion) that pulverises that of 2017 (795 billion). Donald Trump has completely failed to turn the tide, and the first two years of his administration are the worst in US history in terms of trade.
In this global deficit, the imbalance of trade with China weighs heavily. It reached in 2018 a historic record (419 billion) which exceeds the disastrous result of the year 2017 (375 billion). The trade war started by Donald Trump has especially aggravated the US trade deficit. While the imports of Chinese goods to the US continued to grow (+7%), and China reduced its imports from the United States. Donald Trump wanted to use the tariff weapon to rebalance the balance sheet of the United States. It was not illegitimate, but unrealistic for a country that tied its destiny to that of globalisation dictated by transnational corporations made in the USA.
If we add the fact that the trade deficit with Europe, Mexico, Canada, and Russia has also worsened, we are measuring the difficulties that beset the declining hyperpower. But that’s not all. In addition to the trade deficit, the federal fiscal deficit has widened ($779 billion, against $666 billion in 2017). It is true that the soaring of military spending is impressive. The Pentagon’s budget for 2019 is the highest in US history: $686 billion. The same year, China spent 175 billion, with a population that is four times higher. Not surprisingly, the federal debt broke a new record of $22.175 trillion. As for private debt – that of companies and individuals, it gives vertigo (73,000 billion).
Admittedly, the US profits from an exceptional situation. The dollar is still the reference currency for international trade and central bank reserves. But this privilege is not eternal. China and Russia are replacing their dollar reserves with gold bullion and a growing share of trade is now denominated in yuan. The United States lives on credit at the expense of the rest of the world, but for how long? According to the latest study of the audit firm PwC (“The world in 2050: how the global economy will change in the next 30 years”), the “emerging countries” (China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey) could account for 50% of global GDP in 2050, while the share of G7 countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan) would fall to 20%. The fall of the eagle is near.
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