by Philip Greenspan
(Swans - December 18, 2006) 2006 is the year when it became obvious that the United States was a declining world power and the momentum of that decline was accelerating! It's hard to tell when the turning point occurred; after all, the U.S. still possesses the most powerful and technologically advanced military force; has been the leader of the free world; has a corporate culture that pervaded the world; has wealth and influence that had been growing for a long time.
However, that military, powerful as it is, has been unable to accomplish the goals of the Bush administration in Iraq. And troubles are brewing in Afghanistan as well. 2006 is the year when most of the prominent pro-war advocates, whose opinions Bush and the media had relied on for invoking the Iraq war, admitted that it was lost, and when the neocons -- the very architects of that policy -- surprisingly turned against what was done. 2006 is the year when US citizens realized they had been bamboozled by Bush and his gang and turned against their government.
The US's free world leadership had been lost when people throughout the world repudiated its reckless pro-war policies. Friendly nations rejected its requests for support. The few receptive leaders of foreign countries who pledged support were compelled by the fervent and overpowering protests of their citizens to reverse course.
2006 is the year when elections in the US's long-time sphere of influence, Latin America, brought new faces into leadership positions who defied the big bully. 2006 is a year when Iran and North Korea, members of the notorious "axis of evil," stood their ground and showed no sign of buckling to Dubya's demands. 2006 is the year the US's remaining allies had problems as well. Berlusconi, one of the US's strongest supporters, was voted out of office. Olmert, the leader who took over from Sharon, was given an okay from Washington to send the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) into Lebanon to oust Hezbollah. They were stymied, however, and blew it.
2006 is the year the US's financial situation grew ever more desperate. The dollar has been falling against foreign currencies and its position as the world's reserve currency may soon be threatened. Recurring trade deficits drain more and more wealth from the country. Sky-high budget deficits due to the costs of the war will keep increasing the National Debt, now at over 8.6 trillion dollars -- just take a gander at a more exact figure of what it was, according to the US Treasury, on December 6: $8,653,798,995,165.17, whew! It won't be long before and the country will be bankrupt.
Falling prices the past few months put a pall on the earlier rosy housing boom and portends an upcoming recession. Industrial giants such as General Motors and Ford are struggling and other mighty corporations have already tasted bankruptcy, often dumping their sizable pension liabilities on the federal government. Major industries along with good paying manufacturing jobs are moving to foreign countries. Consumer spending exceeds income for a rate of dissaving last seen during the depression. How much longer can this erosion of wealth last?
The Far East economies are growing rapidly and to keep their industries humming have been readily extending credit, which the US government and it citizen consumers have been lapping up. How much longer will that last?
The loss of a country's wealth foreshadows that nation's decline. That is the import of Professor Paul Kennedy's best selling book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Military power depends upon the wealth of the nation and the strength of its economy!
Will the Democrats, the big winners in the midterm elections, make a difference? Particularly with respect to the most important and number one issue, the war? The rhetoric will become less strident. To appease the public an appearance of change will occur. But the basic pro-war policy will remain. Politicians stubbornly persist with their failed policies supported to the end by the elites whom they truly represent.
Without a fundamental shift, a drastic change of direction -- social, political, economic -- 2007 will see much of the same trends, only worse.
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