As all the ingredients needed for a global superpower conflict seem to be heating up, we should ask : ‘How did we get here?’ Our world started in 1946.
Not since Roman times has a political power had such unchallenged control of the known land and seas as the Americans found themselves marshalling after World War 2. In 1946 every boat that mattered and wasn’t American was at the bottom of the ocean. This is when the world we know today started.
Before WW2, there were competing trade areas. The British had their Empire, the French theirs, the Russians and Germans either had or wanted their own and they all built armies, and more importantly, navies, to protect their respective interests. The 20th century, with all of its wars, was where all those squares got circled.
Today, there are 11 super carrier ships in the US Navy. The rest of the world has 20 smaller sized carriers. In combat terms, what this means is that if you were to sail the ‘rest of the world’ navy to war with the US Navy, the Americans, with 2 of their 10 super carriers, could wipe out the ‘rest of the world’ navy in about 6 hours.
As for China being the next superpower, to control the world what is really needed is control of the trade routes. Whilst those trade routes are US controlled, all powers that require ocean access to grow, like China, must to some extent toe the US line.
Why? Well, as the British Navy will tell you, to grow and sustain a Navy of the size required to achieve the geopolitical goals China has is expensive. They would have to divert at least 10% of Chinese GDP into naval production for half a century or more before China even came close to being able to directly challenge the USA for naval control of these waterways – hence the ‘stunts’ of bringing its submarines up in the middle of US Navy battlegroups. These stunts are to play to the domestic audience in China.
The real danger in the South China Sea basin is the lunatic North Korean regime – which amongst other ties sends coal to their ever irritated Chinese ally. The USA has a lot of coal and President Trump famously does not believe in global warming. If the USA & China unite, North Korea might attack first. That potential scenario could be catastrophic.
This U.S. naval supremacy allowed the establishment of the global system of trade that we see today, a paradigm known as the BrettonWoods doctrine. The idea being that the USA uses its naval power to guarantee the security of the worlds major sea routes, and in return the world gets free trade and no military costs(as none of them have a comparable military, and all military capabilities nations like Britain do have are built only to serve the BrettonWoods model, hence, we are told, why trident MUST be bought…..from the Americans).
Originally, the USA conducted this as an act of national security against the USSR, as a means of fighting the cold war economically, using sea lane domination to ‘strangle the commies’. The cold war ended 30 years ago. BrettonWoods is still here. But why?
Because as President Calvin Coolidge once said:
“the business of America IS business”.
Transporting goods by land is anywhere between 50 and 100 times more expensive than transporting it by sea. The costs range depending on what roads you have to build, what mountains you must dig through, how many people you have relocate (or in many cases ethnically cleanse from the land), how much you have to pay to build the infrastructure, etc. After you throw in the rail network, the ports and such, transporting goods by sea is by far the better option. The USA has more miles of integrated navigable waterways than the rest of the world combined, all of that an internalised network. The greater Mississippi is an interlinked system that empties into the inter coastal waterways of the Gulf of Mexico and from there out into the global shipping lanes.
15000 miles of joined up trade supporting waterways that all hook up no matter where in the system you are – from a trade perspective there is nothing else like it on the planet. Combine this with the fact the USA is the only nation on earth that controls, looks out at and has access to two oceans – The Atlantic and the Pacific – and the USA’s position as the pre eminent economic power on earth is, literally, written into the soil.
As an added advantage, this means when Europe is in recession, America trades more with the far east, and when the far east is in recession, America trades more with Europe.
Crucially, when America is in recession, it exports it to the whole world. Since 1946 and the implementation of BrettonWoods the USA hasn’t imported a single recession – none of the recessions started in the rest of the world (Asia in 1998, for example) have penetrated its shores, and every recession it has had has gone global.
The USA has the World’s largest capital base, the World’s largest agricultural base, the worlds largest military base and the worlds largest manufacturing base, not to mention 40% of the global consumer market, 11.5 trillion dollars integrated into its domestic economy (3 times more than the consumer markets of Brazil Russia, India and China combined).
What did the USA do to get into this position? Nothing. America literally did nothing to achieve this dominance save exist. The USA has not needed to have a government have a strategically sound economic policy since they were founded. This all happened on its own, and no matter who is elected to the white house, this position of dominance is something that CAN’T be changed.
The Americans could miss out on opportunities because of political failure, yes, but the USA will never lose its position as the pre eminent power on the face of the globe. The bedrock of what makes America economically successful and militarily secure can’t be undermined, because it is geographic in origin. That’s on Sea. What about on land? What if the West were to put boots on the ground in the Middle East again?
“I wasn’t willing to vote for other women’s children to go to war in Syria.
Only Russia can pull their client state back, and it would be deceiving this audience to say putting British boots on the ground would have a good end.”
In Military & Economic terms the USA is still an unchallenged Collossus. However geopolitical control on landmasses requires ground troops – given its naval weakness this is a fact Russia has exploited for centuries – and on that front, in the Middle East region, the USA simply does not have the numbers to affect a change. Nor does the UK. By bombing from a distance all we do is add to the misery, whilst increasing the likelihood of the terrifying prospect of a nuclear war with Russia.
The USA has often come off as a ‘Global Policeman’, a control freak economy, and when you analyze their trade, it’s hard to argue against this. Only 14% of american GDP is linked to global trade, of which 5% is NAFTA(North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), and 5% is energy. With the rise in shale gas in the USA within 10 years only 4% of the USA’s economy is going to be linked to the rest of the world.
The global economic system, on the other hand is 100% dependent on the USA for both its liquidity and its security. What happens if Trump, as he promised when elected, leads them into isolationism?
If Trump & the USA escalate the situation in Syria from civil conflict to proxy power conflict, then the powderkeg situation is only one step away from open conflict between Russia & the USA. Russia’s economy is about the same size as Italy’s. The CIA spend more money than the entire Russian Defence Budget. Given the military might of the USA, they would win any conventional battle, but Nuclear weapons add a whole new dimension to this discussion. This time, we won’t just see two nuclear bombs used. This time we may see hundreds.
“I was in the army at that time – and a lot of the guys there didn’t believe in the war, but they did it because it was their job.
We went to war to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for his actions, so who is going to be held accountable for these actions? Is it Tony Blair?….. Someone else?………no one?”
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