Fading Days of Empire

Jay Soloman and Siobhan Gorman have an interesting piece in today’s WSJ entitled, “Financial Crisis May Diminish American Sway.”  Your first reaction might be “Ya think?”  followed by “What can we do about it?”

I think a better reaction might be “So what?”  Being the world’s only remaining superpower — and $3.75 — will get you a grande latte at most Starbucks nowadays.  Or put another way, a defense budget the size of the rest of the world’s put together (a point they make) and $3 – 5 trillion (Bilmes – Stiglitz estimate) get you a debacle in the Middle East.  Why is this good for the average US citizen, not to mention those of the rest of the world?

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4 Responses to “Fading Days of Empire”

  1. senor tomason 17 Oct 2008 at 3:37 pm 1

    “a defense budget the size of the rest of the world’s put together ”

    A good thing about our current financial predicament may be that it will end the (for practical purposes) limitless spending of the Pentagon, often for gadgets that are useless on the battlefield. Defense contractor welfare may stop simply because we can not afford it anymore.

  2. Duncan C Kinderon 18 Oct 2008 at 12:36 am 2

    Pakistan, which is currently in serious financial straights, has turned, not to the United States but rather to China for financial assistance.

    Citing the current apparent decline of the US, one Pakistani has asserted Pakistan’s Need for a new era of strategic ties with China.

    The reports of the death of American capitalism may be exaggerated but there is little question that the financial meltdown means the end of its sole superpower status in what was described as a unipolar world, he states.

    He further states, The good news for Pakistan is that the US has run out of money to continue its quest for military hegemony in the Middle East and Central Asia. Given its financial meltdown and astronomical debt levels, the US has no option but to forget about its ambitions to be the dominant military power in the region, seek a truce with the Taliban, pursue diplomacy to resolve conflicts with Iran, and, equally importantly, recognise China’s strategic interests in the region.

    He concludes by discussing China’s rising status.

    Adding, The escalation in the US military campaign on Pakistan’s northern borders can be viewed in the context of its economic crisis. It shows all the signs of desperation.

    [CR: Good — let them bleed China. Influence can be rented, but I don’t know of many cases where it was ever bought.

    Interesting article. I’m still trying to figure out what we get from being the “dominant military power” in South Asia, or even if we are (India has a pretty good military, from what I can tell).

    By the way, Fabius has a post on this subject today.]

  3. Sven Ortmannon 20 Oct 2008 at 8:02 pm 3

    Influence can be bought as well, but it’s as with photo blackmail – it works only as long as the money flows.

    I’ve often used the Luxembourg example to illustrate to others that you don’t need to be big & powerful to live very well. Luxembourg is about the richest country world-wide (and has disproportionally good politicians).

  4. Maxon 22 Oct 2008 at 4:03 pm 4

    ST says,

    “A good thing about our current financial predicament may be that it will end the (for practical purposes) limitless spending of the Pentagon, often for gadgets that are useless on the battlefield. Defense contractor welfare may stop simply because we can not afford it anymore.”

    Of course we’d all agree, and it would be nice if only that
    the majority recognised all that.

    But I like to remind my friends here that their are myriad layers
    and dimentions towards why things work the way they do,
    and the current predicament, as forcast by many amoung us.

    Take this for instance, how very telling, as many here could sense,
    or allready knew, if not having come out and said it themselves, or in as much, (I know I have, because I understand a little about the enemy) but does it carry any weight, with the US
    voting public ?

    Not overlooking the prospect of counter phycolog, I’m inclined
    to take this at face value, because from where I’m from, it makes perfect sense.

    Read on.

    MaX

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/081022/world/al_qaida_us_election

    By Pamela Hess, The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON – Al-Qaida supporters suggested in a Web site message this week they would welcome a pre-election terror attack on the U.S. as a way to usher in a McCain presidency.

    The message was posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site. It says if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, “impetuous” Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is the better choice.

    It says that’s because he’s more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    SITE Intelligence Group, based in Bethesda, Md., monitors the Web site and translated the message.