X Close

Covid has exposed America as a failed state It's hard to view the US at this point as anything other than a cautionary tale

American burns. Once again Photo: Nick Woltman / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images

American burns. Once again Photo: Nick Woltman / MediaNews Group / St. Paul Pioneer Press via Getty Images


June 1, 2020   12 mins

It is remarkable how the effects of Covid on the international system mirrors its impact on individuals. Its lethality, in the acute phase, may be lower than we feared, yet there is a risk of sudden catastrophic relapse after a seeming period of recovery, and the long-term effects are of a gravity we can only dread.

Within states and in the relations between them, as in individuals, the coronavirus searches out and exacerbates the underlying morbidities, exaggerating them until total system failure. When the international system collapses, it will be with Covid, and not of it.

The greatest morbidity the virus has latched onto in the global order is the rivalry between the United States and China. This contest is not new — International Relations scholars have long debated the ‘Thucydides Trap,’ named after the agonising and destructive struggle between Athens and Sparta chronicled by the Greek historian, wherein a rising power is inexorably drawn into conflict with the hegemon it displaces.

When Germany challenged British hegemony at the beginning of the last century, the first wave of globalisation ended in global conflict and then a pandemic; we must hope that this current pandemic, rapidly bringing about the end of the second wave of globalisation, will not similarly end in confrontation between the two great powers.

In this coming struggle, America is starting with a great and self-inflicted handicap. Obama’s attempts to reposition US foreign policy away from its destructive and self-defeating entanglement in the Islamic world and towards the coming confrontation with China failed, distracted by the bloody chaos brought about by the Arab Spring and by the Washington foreign policy “blob’s” unwillingness to wean itself off wars it cannot win.

Trump’s much-touted withdrawal from the Middle East has likewise seen the US bolster its forces in the region with tens of thousands more troops than his term began with, and allowed his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to pursue a burning fixation with regime change in Iran that is unlikely to end in America’s favour.

America has frittered away 5 trillion dollars on its Middle Eastern adventures, indebting itself to China in the process, and burned its domestic and international political capital to an unimaginable degree —with nothing at all to show for it. Now that the architects of this self-inflicted catastrophe wish us to join them in their next global adventure, we must think carefully.

Let’s remember how we got here. Only a couple of months ago, warning about dependence on China and the fragility of our supply chains, and urging decoupling from the aspiring hegemon, was viewed as the preserve of cranks of Right and Left, considered romantic at best and xenophobic at worst.

When Trump urged the same thing for the United States, China’s autocrat Xi was treated to a standing ovation at Davos, and hailed as the new champion of the global liberal order. But now Larry Summers, the high priest of globalisation and of America’s offshoring to China, is warning us against fragile supply chains and the urgency of decoupling with no reference at all his long and glittering career midwifing this catastrophe. Here is the global system, finally stripped of all illusions.

The result is the total discrediting of the US-led order, an order of which China’s rise is as much a direct product as it is a challenge.

The truth is that globalisation, the central political dream of Clinton and Blair, Obama and Cameron, was never real. It was a process by which advanced Western economies unilaterally surrendered their manufacturing capacity to a rival, growing power, China, which instead of reciprocating according to the Panglossian calculations of the neoliberal theorists, practiced a traditional and ruthless mercantilism in pursuit of its own interests. As the American political theorist Michael Lind recently wrote in Tablet:

“Politicians pushing globalization like Clinton may have told the public that the purpose of NAFTA and of China’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was to open the closed markets of Mexico and China to ‘American products made on American soil, everything from corn to chemicals to computers.’ But U.S. multinationals and their lobbyists 20 years ago knew that was not true. Their goal from the beginning was to transfer the production of many products from American soil to Mexican soil or Chinese soil, to take advantage of foreign low-wage, nonunion labor, and in some cases foreign government subsidies and other favors.”

The idea that a global liberal order could, like an iPhone, be designed in America and made in China was the product, where it was sincerely held, of pure ideological delusion. In its entire 5,000 year history, China has not spent one single day as a liberal democracy. The belief that a repressive autocratic regime would suddenly transform into a liberal democracy by being handed more wealth and power was patently absurd. Yet it is the people who held and promoted this claim for decades who intend to lead the world into a great power confrontation — against the China for whose rise they are directly responsible.

Globalisation was always the grand illusion of naive liberalism, taken advantage of by illiberal and non-liberal actors to pursue their own ends. It is the liberals, the TINA bluechecks, who are the artless rubes in this story. Indeed, it is they who deserve much of the blame now being directed at China. In Lind’s words:

“The United States has not been the naive victim of cunning Chinese masterminds. On the contrary, in the last generation many members of America’s elite have sought to get rich personally by selling or renting out America’s crown jewels—intellectual property, manufacturing capacity, high-end real estate, even university resources—to the elite of another country. When asked whether the rapid dismantling, in a few decades, of much of an industrial base built up painstakingly over two centuries has been bad for the United States, the typical reply by members of the U.S. establishment is an incoherent word salad of messianic liberal ideology and neoclassical economics. We are fighting global poverty by employing Chinese factory workers for a pittance! Don’t you understand Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage?”

For a brief few decades, the shift in production to China made a handful of Western individuals unimaginably rich, while lowering the living standards of the middle and working class. It began to turn the First World into a Third World society of stratified, vastly uneven wealth even as it raised China into a First World superpower. For the benefit of a few billionaires, Western societies have immiserated their voter base, dramatically weakened themselves, and helped shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands of their own people.

These events didn’t just happen. Factories didn’t just uproot themselves and migrate to China like flocks of concrete geese. These were conscious, willed acts presented to us as faits accomplis — which we must now consciously and painfully undo, in full historical awareness of how this all took place.

It was in winning the first Cold War that the United States set the stage for its own eclipse, though our own entanglement in this mess is the product of the Second World War. In 1945, the United States found itself the victor through its possession of a vast industrial base, sheltered by geography from the destruction we European powers had wrought upon ourselves. The Soviet Union could not keep up with America’s industrial power, able to churn out both weapons and consumer goods with dizzying speed and sophistication.

Yet when the rival superpower collapsed, exhausted, the United States took the wrong lessons from the fall of communism. American policymakers convinced themselves their global dominance was due to the success of their liberal ideology rather than of their industrial might, and that the sudden, unexpected disintegration of the Soviet Union was due to the vindication of liberalism rather than of the awakened nationalism of Russia’s subject peoples.

Drunk on victory, and searching for a new project, American policymakers decided to remake the world in their own image. In 1993, the National Security Strategy of US National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and Secretary of State Warren Christopher melded the doctrine of imperial hegemony with the free market orthodoxies that had taken root in the Reagan era. As the realist International Relations scholar Patrick Porter notes:

“Christopher’s version assumed that the United States ‘must maintain its military strength’, ‘stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction’, and ‘knock down barriers to global trade’. Lake’s premise was that ‘America’s power, authority, and example provide unparalleled opportunities to lead,’ that its security rested on the rise of market democracy abroad.”

Our present moment, in all its dangers, results from this fusion of the two strands of liberalism at the very apogee of American power: the belief that the unfettered free movement of goods, capital, services and people would raise global living standards to endless new heights, and that it was America’s manifest destiny to oversee a worldwide liberal order of free trade and unchallenged US hegemony.

Distractedly giving away the industrial base that won them the first Cold War to their rival in the second, American administrations of both parties plunged headfirst into the post-historical future. It took less than a decade for reality to crash into the World Trade Center, but by then it was too late. America’s policymakers had been captured by their grand delusion, and they refused to let it go even as the empire found itself over-extended in war after war, entered into with noble liberal aims utterly divorced from reality, and from which it was unable to extricate itself.

Just one decade after 9/11, despite America’s mauling in Iraq, pious liberals saw in the Arab Spring a chance to spread their creed to oppressed masses crying out for liberal democracy, and watched with confused horror as the armed factions of the Middle East turned instead to the older and more powerful forces of religious fervour, ethnic conflict and sectarian hatred. Lost in a fantasy world of their own imagining, Americans could not begin to understand the world they dreamed of changing.

America’s rapid rise to global hegemony and equally rapid decline is a grand historical tragedy of the highest order, and as in classical tragedy, the root cause is the protagonist’s central character flaw. Born of 18th-century liberal ideals, and centred on a sacred set of texts, a constitution and declaration of independence debated with rabbinical exactitude and religious fervour, for the United States, that flaw is its civic religion of liberalism.

While we at least, like our neighbours in Europe, have older traditions on which to draw, and with which we can temper liberalism’s zealous certainties, America was liberal from the start and will remain so until the end; with no countervailing influence, in America liberalism mutated into a fundamentalist religion. It is only through this zealot’s devotion to liberalism that American policymakers sincerely believed they could bomb Afghan shepherds and bribe the Chinese politburo into becoming fellow acolytes.

Their certainty in liberalism’s manifest destiny to spread itself over every corner of the earth goes beyond reasonable analysis: it is a purely religious faith. Despite the failure of its devotees to achieve success wherever they have tried it, they will not stop, and cannot. It is a compulsion, a religious duty impossible for them to abandon, shared by both factions.

America’s crusading zeal is not just for export: through some magical process, all manner of political thought is in the United States transmuted into religion. Trump’s opponents on the liberal and radical left have mangled French postmodernist theory into a dour and millenarian Calvinism. On the populist right, the QAnon conspiracy theory is rapidly evolving into a widespread religious cult, a Manichaen heresy with Trump as its central vengeful deity.

Now the two opposing sects of American liberalism, conventionally characterised as political parties, are at war with each other, in a so far relatively bloodless battle for the nation’s soul. What the Reformation did tragically for Christianity in Europe, America’s political culture war is repeating farcically with liberalism.

If we observe the American war on Covid, we see it is America’s Chernobyl moment as much as China’s. The United States is by far the world’s worst-affected country in terms of total numbers, and its outbreak is still far from over. The symbolism of American states forming regional blocs to counteract the incompetence and total incapacity of its central government to save lives or arrest the virus’s progress lends weight to The Atlantic’s charge that the US now resembles a failed state.

The image of the Surgeon General of the richest and most powerful empire that has ever existed instructing Americans in a Twitter video how to improvise a mask out of a T-shirt — a T-shirt prominently advertising an opioid overdose antidote — is a potent symbol of deep and existential rot.

It is a country embroiled in political conflict over even the basic facts of science, from biology to medicine: because the American President promoted one potential Covid cure, half the country became devoted to its efficacy, and the other to its harmfulness. Had Trump condemned hydroxychloroquine, no doubt the same war would have taken place in reverse, with liberal commentators ostentatiously guzzling the drug on video to widespread approval.

Trump is a morbid symptom of this chaos, rather than its cause. The forthcoming election, which pits two gerontocrats of dubious mental acuity against each other, resembles the late Soviet era, before the regime collapsed under its own absurdities. America indeed represents a strange inversion of the Soviet collapse: the economy dwarfs that of any other nation, save China; its empire is still intact, and its military spans the globe more powerfully than any single challenger.

Yet at its centre the US echoes post-Soviet Russia in its epidemics of death by drug overdose, in its collapsing middle class, its worsening health outcomes and declining life expectancies, the capture of the state and economy by rapacious oligarchs, and in the occasional bouts of interethnic violence leading to demonstrations, riots and broader political dysfunction.

As the veteran American diplomat Richard Haass sadly observes: “Long before COVID-19 ravaged the earth, there had already been a precipitous decline in the appeal of the American model. Thanks to persistent political gridlock, gun violence, the mismanagement that led to the 2008 global financial crisis, the opioid epidemic, and more, what America represented grew increasingly unattractive to many. The federal government’s slow, incoherent, and all too often ineffective response to the pandemic will reinforce the already widespread view that the United States has lost its way.”

What, then, is the appeal of this model to wavering allies in a new Cold War? The idea it can be considered a viable model of governance to follow is now patently absurd. As I sit typing this, troops are deployed on the streets of cities across the country, their Humvees still painted desert tan, as looters smash and burn and ransack shops, and protestors march against rubber bullets and tear gas; the tools of imperial policing are now brought to bear on the metropole.

It is surely impossible to view the US at this point as anything other than a cautionary tale, a burning city on a hill, which evokes only the desire for our own society to avoid its fate. In his Tablet essay, Lind glumly muses about a near-future United States withering into a “deindustrialized, English-speaking version of a Latin American republic, specializing in commodities, real estate, tourism, and perhaps transnational tax evasion, with decayed factories scattered across the continent and a nepotistic rentier oligarchy clustered in a few big coastal cities”.

While an America in decline may throw up a more competent caudillo than Trump in time, it is difficult to reasonably conclude that it possesses the societal solidarity to wage a decades-long, global struggle against a near-competitor. It is hard to imagine an American governing class scandalised at calling Covid a Chinese virus waging an existential conflict against China to a successful conclusion.

The country’s politics were torn apart, for four years, by a handful of Russian Facebook posts promoting Trump; how then will it cope with China’s far greater penetration of social media, of American commerce and industry, of universities and politics, of all the institutions of 21st century American life? We do not know, yet, who will win this year’s election, nor whether the losing party, will, as in the previous election, attempt to overturn the result and further delegitimise the entire political process.

Perhaps the era of losing parties accepting election results has gone for good in America, now both sides view their opponents as a Schmittian enemy to be vanquished for eternity. America is too lost in its own internal conflict to contemplate a grander, global struggle with any confidence.

In any case, America’s foreign policy is disastrous in its own terms, even before Covid started coursing through its system. As the International Relations scholar Philip Cunliffe observes, America is that curious paradox, a revisionist hegemon, restlessly driven by ideology to overturn the very global order it charges itself with maintaining, producing what he terms a “cosmopolitan dystopia” that undermines America’s own position.

American attempts to overturn regimes which offend its liberal values have produced overwhelmingly negative results for the global system, spreading chaos and enhancing the reach and power of its geopolitical rivals. America’s record in these endless wars has not been one of success. Defeated, outflanked by Iran in Iraq, and clutching defeat from the jaws of victory in eastern Syria, America’s hegemonic military power and tactical skill has been relentlessly undermined by the total detachment from reality displayed by the Washington blob which determines the goals and course of the nation’s wars.

In a manner we can safely assume is not replicated in China, the architects of America’s endless policy failures, like the Iraq War, are not punished by the system, but awarded further sinecures and promotions by an establishment which rewards failure and hobbles success. Defeat is baked in from the outset: the rot is now so widespread it will likely become terminal.

American decline is starkly measurable in outcomes, even as its ballooning defence budgets sap the country’s economy. The United States can no longer keep its client states from each other’s throats, causing wars to break out even within the US alliance system: Qatar and Turkey’s attempts to establish Muslim Brotherhood governance projects across the Middle East and North Africa are directly challenged by the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s support for notionally secular strongmen, in a proxy conflict dragging in France and Russia and threatening Europe’s security.

Even a recent coup attempt in a bankrupt and unstable South American country failed despite Pompeo’s loudly-voiced support, which should have been America playing in easy mode. As in any horror movie, the threat’s coming from inside the building: all America’s rivals need do, like Russia in Syria, is exploit the contradictions and weaknesses of US policy, and turn the superpower’s weight and power against it at minimal cost and risk to themselves.

Unlike Iraq, or the Taliban emirate, however, there is fortunately little prospect of the United States engaging in open conflict with China. As Pentagon planners warn, it is unlikely that America will win even a limited naval engagement in China’s Pacific sphere of influence, let alone attempt a ground war against a billion-strong nuclear power.

Instead, we can expect a hybrid war that stops short of open confrontation, involving information warfare on social media, the hacking and sabotage of key infrastructure, the economic blackmail and extortion of allies through sanctions and tariffs and a dangerous jockeying for position as Covid accelerates the collapse of weak states across the ME and Africa, already teetering on the edge of failure.

The internet will surely emerge as a central battleground, and one which poses a far greater risk to America’s open, divided, and already-penetrated system than to China’s hermetically-sealed national internet: indeed, it is doubtful the worldwide web as we currently understand it will long survive a great power confrontation.

As hacked power grids and water treatment plants fail, and passenger planes mysteriously fall out of the sky, and top secret documents are released on social media, the rest of the world will find itself in the uncomfortable position of deciding which side presents the safest bet: and Covid has begun this process sooner than anyone expected.

Born in 1945, the American Empire was the global boomer, sitting astride the earth like it was a ride-on lawnmower, frittering away his children’s inheritance on cheap Chinese gewgaws and blaming everyone else for his poor decisions and for the decline of his powers. It is natural then, that it will be laid low by what is cruelly termed the Boomer plague, and we will do well to escape the hardship and bloodshed that attends the collapse of empires with as little harm to ourselves as possible.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

arisroussinos

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

157 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Karadjordjevic
Karadjordjevic
4 years ago

These events didn’t just happen. Factories didn’t just uproot themselves
and migrate to China like flocks of concrete geese. These were
conscious, willed acts presented to us as ‘faits accomplis’ ” which we must now consciously and painfully undo…

This turn of phrase reminds me a bit of Steve Bannon (remember him?) as he railed against the ‘Davos set’ who told us that globalisation was the ‘second law of thermodynamics’… as such the article begs the question “So, was Trump right?”
This is problematic, since there are large parts of the population for whom anything Trump touches is forever tarnished, and he can never seen to have been correct. The coming confrontation with China has, to an extent, been ‘baked in’ as the author will know, from books such as Blackwill/Harris, written when a Clinton presidency was a foregone conclusion and contains a long blue line of quotes and policy references from the likes of Biden, Obama and Clinton herself.
Even Warren, back in 2007/08, in ‘The Two Income Trap’ was sounding the alarm on the downward pressure on wages, and the destruction of unionized jobs that fell to the hungry jaws of globalisation…
Trump did not invent the ‘crusade’ against globalisation/China, but he was certainly the first, and most effective, at weaponizing it for electoral purposes.

loubougias
loubougias
4 years ago
Reply to  Karadjordjevic

Alexander K?

Ellie K
Ellie K
4 years ago
Reply to  Karadjordjevic

No, Trump did not invent the crusade against globalization, but he did more than merely “weaponizing it for electoral purposes”. As AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka said, Trump was the ONLY president in decades with whom organized labor could potentially work. As NAFTA was redrafted–and tariffs imposed on mercantilist China at last–Trumka explicitly stated (in USA Today op-eds), that neither candidate Hillary Clinton, nor Obama, Bush II, nor Bill Clinton, was more receptive to supporting American manufacturing and labor than Donald Trump.

You’re correct: Many liberal progressives, even Robert Reich (Clinton’s secretary of labor) can only perceive Trump policy programs as moronic, self-serving, beneath contempt, racist etc. Effective responses to China’s territorial expansionism and avidity for global hegemony will receive minimal support, solely because they are initiated by Trump… even when he is correct! This needs to change. Is it even possible? idk

drrepper
drrepper
4 years ago
Reply to  Ellie K

Trump isn’t Anti-globalist in any sincere sense, he just wants to maintain the US’ position as the governing hegemony. He opposes globalisation only in so far as it manifests itself in the rise of China. He is very much a neoliberal.

saintsorsceptics
saintsorsceptics
4 years ago
Reply to  drrepper

We ought not to expect a consistent or coherent philosophy from Trump, or even a faint impression of competence.
However, he did, unexpectedly, create opportunities for new approaches, as Ellie points out. I hope these are not wasted.

fernly2
fernly2
4 years ago
Reply to  Ellie K

Humanity is growing out of hegemony. It’s an empty suitðƞ€—we are growing into a new renaissance of sovereignty of all cultures just to meet the challenge of satisfying our curiosity about space. We are being pulled into a rejection of the rule of gold and an acceptance of the golden rule as we see that our curiosity has globally shared goals and requires cooperation as well as sovereignty. Yet we are being shaken up by color revolutions at home and abroad! Our species is more robust than we can imagine and will continue discovering new and more complex ways of existing.

fernly2
fernly2
4 years ago
Reply to  Karadjordjevic

That Trump threw the “yellow peril” propaganda back in the face of globalists who were involved in selling technology to China at that time, does not preclude him ultimately being ready to join BRICS, OBOR, or negotiating with Xi on his proposed basis of “win-win. A failure of sustained success of looting smaller countries would tend to lead to consideration of other options.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  fernly2

Yellow Peril, sure, I think he needs to create the old scapegoat to kick around for the home crowd, so that elections are a foregone conclusion because the Great Unwashed will get their views from T.V. And if you don’t believe me listen to the ‘echo chamber’ on this website.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Karadjordjevic

The writer says ‘expect a hybrid war which stops short of’ Well yes, and it is called Covid-19. A illness which does not effect Chinese (3 deaths per million, USA 1100 deaths per million) but does the West.

Not a shot fired, just a disease released (likely cultured and tuned) wile a million international passengers depart China to every corner of the world.

But yes, Liberalism is a sickness its self. As someone who has been around and is multinational I have always seen the disease of Liberalism coupled with a massive failure to understand that foreign cultures are different to Western Suburban values (the place where most Western Leaders and Technocrats have grown up, that utterly make believe culture which also makes its people think it is the only real place in existence, one all would ascribe to.)

Liberalism is a pathology of flexible codes of honor, relative morality, and situational ethics, coupled with self loathing and at the same time, a complete inability to think that any but Liberals can hold any truth. It is self destruction like anorexia nervosa, killing ones self because ones perception of truth has become utterly twisted and superficial.

Robin Aitken
Robin Aitken
4 years ago

Does this writer actually do any research before setting pen to paper? He says the US is ‘the worst affected country’: in what way precisely? For the record the per capita death rate in the US is very little different than that in scores of other developed countries; the US rate is a little higher than Switzerland, a little lower than Holland. The US hasn’t done spectacularly badly, nor outstandingly well. I get the feeling this whole article is coloured by the general liberal European antipathy to Trump. America will prove its blinkered critics wrong (again) after this episode; throughout my lifetime sneery lefties have been writing-off the US as spent, broken, decayed and failing and yet America just keeps on bouncing back – as she will again. No country is perfect – nor ever will be; but America has great strengths and this writer only sees the weaknesses.

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin Aitken

The US hasn’t done spectacularly badly, nor outstandingly well.

No, however, the US is a huge, heterogeneous union of fifty states comprising 330 million people. Remove NYC’s numbers and the numbers from within a 100-mile radius of NYC, from America’s totals, and America has done quite well as a matter of fact. Cuomo and de Blasio have done spectacularly badly, which has driven the perception of America’s experience with Wuhan Flu downward unfairly.

That is, America’s experience cannot be viewed in toto any more than one blind man touching the proverbial elephant and then describing it would provide an accurate description of an elephant.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin Aitken

I would say the sneery lefties (or their ilk) have been writing America off one way or another since 1783. War of 1812-14, Civil War, Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, 1970s, 9/11, Financial Crisis, Afghanistan, Trump. All were proof that America was doomed. And all so far have been wrong.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

The War of 1812 was a clear defeat that left the country, bankrupt, divided, with New England on the cusp of Succession
the merchant fleet destroyed, and Washington DC in ruins, yet the US survived and prospered.
It had been a close run thing. Had the British not been so obsessed with the homicidal Corsican Pygmy, otherwise know as Napoleon Bonaparte, history might have been different.
However she went to supersede Britain as the defender of the Free World, and is now in her prime and at the zenith of her power , thus very far away from collapse! Much to chagrin of many a cretin and not a few Casandras!

.

Dharmarajan Sitaraman
Dharmarajan Sitaraman
4 years ago

While most of the arguments pointing to the decline of the US are well stated (with a bit of exaggeration), the unstated conclusion that China will win this war is dubious. Despite all the harm that the US did to the world (especially in Vietnam, South America and lately in the middle east), the US is still vastly more admired than China, and that is not likely to change. There is probably not a single country that has genuine good will towards China; China’s list of enemies is long – Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Taiwan, and the rapidity with which China has managed to generate ill will all across the world is unprecedented. So, for all it’s problems, the US may find itself enjoying supremacy for a few decades more.

stevescoe
stevescoe
4 years ago

You don’t need goodwill when you have 1.3 Billion citizens. Goodwill is cheap. Giant infrastructure projects and massive investment in technology and long term planning isn’t. Classic brains vs brawn, though in this case, brains and intelligence vs airheaded popularity.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago

The U.S. is still admired you say, for what. For leaving Afghanistan in great shape? Or even Iraq which they dealt with so responsibly as a world power, or maybe Libya which is a total mess after getting their allies to help them wreck the place, no well what about Syria where refugees are still flowing out in thousands but not being supported by the responsible U.S. no, Europe has to show the way there, though they are struggling with the numbers. Maybe the Palestinians, or the Chileans, or dozen other Latin American banana republics, and I suggest you discover why they are called that. It could even be the Cubans, naw wouldn’t think so. I think people who believe America is doing good are living in a bubble and should be shook incredibly hard in order to wake them up.

Harvey Johnson
Harvey Johnson
3 years ago

I’d say they’re admired for their past successes and their soft power more than anything else.

And the fact they don’t engage in sectarian genocide, build camps to ‘reprogram’ its own citizens, censor their own internet access, make it a criminal offence to gather in protest, wage very public wars on democracy (the world’s default governance setting – at least in name) in Hong Kong and Tibet, and then attempt to cover up and intimidate their way around a pandemic that started – by hook or by crook – on their own soil that has now claimed nearly 3 million lives worldwide and caused untold pain and disruption.

Granted, the US rap sheet is likely to be similarly long and this has likely only gotten worse in recent months; but next to that, it’s quite easy to appear the preferable hegemon to most.

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
4 years ago

I think a lot of the good points made in the article are lost due to exaggeration.

Outsourcing too much of its manufacturing base and societal issues that persist in the States are two deep problems that are seeming more and more obvious each day.

The other point about people misreading democracy and liberalisation as the key drivers to the USA’s success is an excellent one. The second world war and cold wars and most major conflicts have been won by the US and her allies due to overwhelming industrial, economic and (more latterly) technological supremacy. Not purely because the prevailing political and social ideology (liberal, democratic) prevailed against the alternatives, as has too often been overstated. Whilst it’s true that stable liberal democracies can provide a perfect environment for greater economic and industrial success, the geographical advantage of being far from any major enemies and so large cannot be understated.

However the people have been predicting the fall of the US for decades. in 1941 the Japanese thought the whole ‘rotten’ edifice would come crashing down if enough pressure was applied – but in turn they merely provoked the States into becoming the industrial, economic, military and cultural behemoth it is now. The US has remained firmly at the apex of the global order since. Even now it still has too large a domestic economic base, is almost entirely resource self-sufficient and has by far and away the most powerful armed forces – bar none.

Whilst I don’t quite buy the full industrial military complex myth, there is some truth in the repeated doom-monger defence articles that predict an impending a US rout on the battlefield. After all how do the defence companies keep convincing the US taxpayer to fork out for the latest and best defence hardware if they are already omnipotent? The F-22 project is a case in point – orders of which stopped because put simply nothing on any other nation’s design boards even came close.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

The defense industry is massively profitable. That’s why it can fleece taxpayers year after year. Our “representatives” love to pull up a seat and tuck into those riches. Like the NRA, our military persists at this level of spending because it gets Republicans elected.

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
4 years ago
Reply to  Joanna Caped

Yes I do not doubt its profitability – but the value in defence spending is a curious one. Like a lot of economic decisions it’s not clear cut what would happen if you had chosen a different course of action.

Put simply, we’re most likely living in an era of (relative) global prosperity protected by the military bubble of the United States. Which has enabled global free trade and movement on an unprecedented scale, and all but stopped any major conventional wars between major powers.

However we will never 100% be able to confirm or deny that – as there is not a parallel universe to showing the results of a lack of US influence.

I genuinely think the US is currently footing the bill for much of global security, and we’d see a very different world if that suddenly stopped.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

I think if you look at globalisation what you see is tax dodging, let’s call a spade a spade, abuse of children by child labour, dumping poisonous waste across the globe, check out how much water goes into a pair of Levi’s, and that is not Californian water, abuse of working conditions, Guatemalan murders come to mind when Coke Cola didn’t want unions coming in. Safety; check out the many examples in India. Global security is a joke, America talks about defending the homeland, which seems very unusual with troops all over the world far away from the homeland, there is no other country that has interfered with foreign countries as much as the U.S.

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
4 years ago

Some fair points – but I will call a spade a spade. Not saying that I fully agree with the US and its foreign policy, but here are the key facts, during the time we are talking about (post 1945):

– global living standards have rocketed
– state on state warfare has become less and less likely, and in 2020 is almost non-existent
– Put simply, the average person in 2020 has a higher life expectancy and standard of living than at any time in history.

I am not saying that therefore there are no issues, that climate change or unrest might not reverse that. But those are undeniable facts.

And to your points, I am not saying that the US is some benign benefactor – not unlike the British Empire before it, it benefits the more than any nation from this status quo. And the US sure does meddle in affairs – but seen in the context of history it’s virtually nothing compared to other great powers throughout history. Arguably it should meddle more – or not at all. It has a tendency to upset the apple cart then leave others to pick up the mess.

Safety in India? Most certainly an issue in some cases, but India almost above any other nation has developed further than most during this period.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

You fly through your reply without much back up to what you are stating. Globalisation is abou abusing a group of countries for the benefits of a few, your guidance, the bottom line, doesn’t hold water, in Indonesian they have more earnings than before but more rivers are poisoned more young people exploited than ever before, the bottom line is just one aspect of the good life, but if it is the only one being used, it doesn’t tell you much about all other aspects, environment, social, cultural, psychological, I think you need a broader perspective on what we regard as the Good Life. The economic aspect is short-sighted approach to what really matters. when are a child is forced to stand in bleach all day in India for a dollar a day, sure his economic life has improved but what about the rest. Tell me who makes the rest of the profit and is this what the child wants?

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
4 years ago

I fly through the answer because there is no debate. So I didn’t waste time.

Here’s some information for you, though I think you have a suspicion you have your viewpoint and won’t change it whatever:

https://ourworldindata.org/

https://www.investopedia.co

https://www.econlib.org/lib

Relativist views on mental health and subjective measures of standards of living (define the “good life” whatever that is) are pointless. And very specific studies about obesity in the US and chemicals in Indonesia mean little in the grand scheme of things. That’s not to say there are not wrongdoings in those specific cases, and that it’s not awful for those involved. But it doesn’t change that for the vast vast majority of people throughout the world , life is considerably demonstrably better than it was for most of our forbears throughout history.

Not suggesting that there are not massive improvements still to be made and that everything’s perfect – as i have been clear all along. It’s not one or the other, it’s a process. But the trend is indisputably one way.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

I read your first site and it doesn’t make sense, it talks about life being better than at the beginning of the 1800s, well that depends again on how you measure better, the richer are much richer, those perspectives are pointless nor irrelevant they are as important as your bottom line which is the only carrot being dangled, and so I see little point in what you offer as arguments because this is extremely weak and I’m afraid pointless.
4 pc of Germans believe that life is better nowadays, If your points are indeed countering what I am stating the Germans and the Swedes do not see it like that, and so instead of strengthening your argument you seem to be undermining yourself.

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
4 years ago

It probably doesn’t make sense – as you don’t seem to understand it. I think we’ll just leave this here.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

No you seem to buy into all the crap about the bottom line defining what life is about, and yet I have yet to hear a preacher talk of a man’s wealth as he lays him down in his final resting place. I think the Covid Virus blew a hole in the importance of the bottom line as a criteria for measuring the good life.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

You say global living standards have rocketed, but you look at the bottom line and measure the so- called good life by stating this one criteria, but that is extremely narrow and a distorted view of what the good life should be. You also fail to discuss the misery that Reagan’s trickle down economics and Clinton’s courting of Wall Street and the banks have done to the minimum wage which should have reached 30 dollars today if things had kept going the way they were going up till the 1980s.

It is also not true what you say about life expectancy as Americans are often being fed rubbish and weight problems are affecting over 30% of the population, “With the latest data from the NHANES showing that 39.6 percent of adults and 18.5 percent of children ages 2 to 19 in America have obesity, the State of Obesity report noted that “these are the highest rates ever documented by NHANES.” I believe the high percentage of obesity is dragging down life expectancy.
If you look at Distributive Justice, India has become worse than ever because of the huge gap between rich and poor. So your arguments seem sound but they aren’t and I didn’t take out my microscope yet, to increase the intensity of many counter arguments.
You say it should maybe be possible to meddle more in other nations, but could you give me an example of any country that has improved that country by meddling in its affairs?
It has no moral right to meddle in any country and it has been meddling in Latin America for years which hasn’t seemed to make any of those countries any better than they could be without the meddling. They have interfered in Cuba to disastrous effect, Chile we shall not even start on, and then to the United Fruit company known today as the Chiquita Banana Company, this is what one writer remarks, “The Banana Industry, as funny as the name might sound, brought vast environmental destruction, slave-like exploitation of workers and corrupt military governments to Latin America ” the executives of the companies were called ‘banana barons’, only outshined by the even more brutal ‘rubber barons’. They overthrew governments, killed thousands of workers and destabilized whole countries politically and economically.” They say that up to 3000 people were murdered in Columbia because they wanted a union. Let’s not go into those rubber barons.

So, what was your argument about the grand Of US of A?

AJ Spetzari
AJ Spetzari
4 years ago

And yes more than aware of the history behind the United Fruit company and other CIA goings on in Latin America. I don’t disagree that they are attrocious – so your points are moot.

Compared to the worst of the 20th century however – sadly the butchers bill is even worse elsewhere. I wouldn’t read up on the great Chinese famine, Stalinist purges or Pol Pot’s Cambodia if you didn’t like the CIA’s policies in LATAM 70s and 80s. You might be in for a shock.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

Problem is in your reasoning yourcomparing third world leaders with the so called democratic, freedom=Loving US of A, the so called world leader, sorry that is a lame dog that has lost its bite.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

Spot on. Reluctance of most NATO members to deliver on defense spending commitments is an indication of their complacency, and continued reliance upon the US to provide a security bubble in which to operate.

gleaveh
gleaveh
4 years ago
Reply to  AJ Spetzari

“I think a lot of the good points made in the article are lost due to exaggeration.” I agree. The author does make some good points, but citing the powers of the states vs the federal level is arguably not evidence of the US being a “failed state” but of the constitution working. When Trump claimed his power as president was “absolute” he clearly had no read the constitution, and was promptly gainsayed by the states.

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago

I was getting squeamish by your disregard for the difference between a Democrat Administration and a Republican one, and the policies that result from each, but you completely lost me at: “The United States is by far the world’s worst-affected country in terms of total numbers, and its outbreak is still far from over.” (Looking at raw numbers is ridiculous because the population of the US is about as large as all of Europe). This is the kind of alarmist journalism I expect from the BBC or CNN, not from UnHerd. You have not convinced me that America is a failed state, but I am on the other hand convinced this is a failed essay.

mike otter
mike otter
4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

i have no particualr bias toward the USA – their imperialism has been as brutal as anyones..but yes a failed article, better suited to the Murdock or Graun press

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hasn’t it been a failed state for a long time, It doesn’t have its own banking system, the defence story is swallowed in huge chunks year in year out and we are talking trillions of dollars, the health system is not for everyone, your schooling is putting the youth into debt which the job market will not help to pay off. The minimum wage should have reached 30 plus dollars per hour but is still extremely low, many of your aged had to sell their houses to pay for hospital bills are now living in trailer parks, blacks have always been treated extremely poorly, in every department of society, your distribution of justice shows greed rules, now I can go on and discuss your disgraceful foreign policy or your jaundiced media. But I believe I have pretty much described a failed state that does not tackle its biggest problems, and greed rules, the Covid relief fund and how it was plundered by the extremely wealthy and the banks says enough, but if you need another 200 disgraceful examples of a failed state I would be only too glad to supply it. Calling me a lefty or a Commie does not answer the problem it just gives you a delusional feeling of being right.

gbgciom
gbgciom
4 years ago

Failed State? All I know is the moment people get money they want a house in the USA, the moment people wish to leave a country from where they were born they want first of all to go to the USA. On COVID 19 they have done better than the UK, check out deaths per 100,000

drrepper
drrepper
4 years ago
Reply to  gbgciom

The UK is well past the peak, and has a population that is 83% urbanised. Besides, the UK government have also been roundly criticised for their approach to the pandemic both at home and abroad, so your argument is a bit like Typhoid pointing at Cholera and saying “I’m not as bad as they are”.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  drrepper

Please do not forget the distribution of land over 70% is in the hands of the nobility.

Mick Jackson
Mick Jackson
4 years ago
Reply to  gbgciom

The US has a much higher rate of cases per milion than the UK. It also has a higher death rate per million than all but 6 European countries and within a couple of weeks 2 of them will fall behind. It has a case rate per million over twice as high as the EU and a death rate per million that overtook the EU’s rate 10 days ago and is rapidly pulling away. Probably not COVID-dsyfunctional Sweden and the UK are the onle European countries that can be compared to the COVID-dysfunctional USA

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
4 years ago
Reply to  Mick Jackson

It appears that obesity is a huge ‘co-morbidity’ for CV19. Americans have the edge.
One doctor said that no one with diabetes type1 were dying, it was type 2 – which normally means obese.

nigel roberts
nigel roberts
4 years ago
Reply to  Mick Jackson

All of which is attributable to more testing in the US, which means more cases have been identified, and as the previous poster mentioned,the fatalities are massively skewed by the moronic handling of the pandemic by the Governor of New York..

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  nigel roberts

Why moronic Nigel?

stevescoe
stevescoe
4 years ago
Reply to  gbgciom

They don’t want a house in the rust belt. The want one in the wealthy costal areas.

Just like Americans like to go on vacation to Cabo, Mexico. It doesn’t mean Mexico is a great place.

sjpepper
sjpepper
4 years ago
Reply to  gbgciom

I can’t agree with that. Having spent time in USA as a young adult I was so repulsed by the combination of evangelising Christianity and unethical business practices I resolved never to return. Happily have achieved that.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  sjpepper

Well done Sheila wonderful point, yes it seems more like fundamentalism at its worst.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  gbgciom

This is an unusual argument, too many generalisations. You say as soon as people get money they want a house in the U.S. where is your source for that, because my large circle of friends and acquaintances have houses in many places but none in the states. I headed to Holland as soon as I left my home country and America was not on my list because of the lack of Distributive Justice, in fact any of the Scandinavian countries have much more just distribution of justice than America. I recently discovered that billions of dollars went to millionaires which were plundered from the Covid relief fund. By comparing two countries that have been abominable in protecting the weakest is not an argument to say that country has done well

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago

A very good analysis and it’s nice to see someone outside of the (usually leftist) podcasters acknowledge that Trump is the symptom, not the cause. As to the prospect of two 70-somethings fighting it out in November, I myself have made the point in recent months that we used to mock the USSR for their series of ageing or dying leaders. That is has come to this in the US is quite incredible.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Sir, this boy isn’t anything other than another leftist.

stevescoe
stevescoe
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill Gaffney

how so

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Bill Gaffney

Leftist, rightist, up all nightist, these are simplifications of minds, many who have a variety of perspectives which one should respect and argue with, but this ad hominem approach should not be used.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Britain suffers the same lack of talent among our political class. There are several reasons and a thorough study of it would be welcome, so long as it is NOT from a current or failed politician.

Here the development of the political class and the Anywhere – Somewhere conflict are parts of the problem along with a belief in the end of history concept. They really did think they could walk on water.

By seeking to abolish the nation state an d replace accountable government with bureaucratic NGOs and supra national organisations, the point of politics and campaigning for values have been destroyed. I am not sure how many of them did it for those reasons in the hope of establishing an international dictatorship (run by the self appointed elite and frieds) and how many just didn’t understand where it was leading.

One issue in the mix must be the freedon from war or invasion in the west for so long the politicians and the people have come to thinkk that is normal, along with enough food to eat and relative freedom from arbitrary arrest (so long as you obey the plethora of regulations and do not speak out agaiunst them). Those conditions are not normal. They have to be worked for.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think we should judge people on the strength of their character, after all they are looking for the nation’s highest position. Unfortunately, for American society, I believe not one politician is made of the right moral fibre to lead America, there are too many powerful lobby groups destroying politics, the average politician needs 10 million to get elected, that money mostly comes from businesses or groups representing businesses; 300 million spent on lobbying by the top ten lobby groups, that tells you who is pulling the strings in politics. Amazon and Facebook have spent 16m each on lobbying, that means their power will increase due to their influence in politics which
just keeps growing.

delchriscrean
delchriscrean
4 years ago

I am not a scholar, I am an ordinary person, but even I could see the imbalance developing and the extraordinary double standards. More and more, brands I considered to be made in Europe or UK starting carrying the label “made in China for…” or “Made in PRC”. But to know that you need to see the label and with the rise of online shopping you don’t. So I started a petition because I felt others, like me, wanted to know that manufacture had been shifted from a country with good employment law, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions and good record of human rights to one that did not. It has had very little support. So what does that tell us?
I also contacted various companies asking where their goods were made and got very few replies, of them only one did not include China the a main manufacturer of at least some of their lines. None of them mention this in their product descriptions. Why?
If anyone is interested in the petition please reply and I will send a link.

Robert Gibson
Robert Gibson
4 years ago
Reply to  delchriscrean

Please send me the link to the petition you mention! Robert Gibson randmgibson@aol.com.

aka19
aka19
4 years ago
Reply to  delchriscrean

Your campaign has to be re-started and made successful. Then the author’ arguments and his conclusion about USA being a failed country may need re-evaluation..

andy young
andy young
4 years ago

“The country’s politics were torn apart, for four years, by a handful of Russian Facebook posts promoting Trump” That’s quite an assertion; is there credible evidence to verify it?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  andy young

No, I believe Trump cannot serve two masters, he is doing his best for Israel, the Lobbyists have done their work.

neil.tg.b
neil.tg.b
4 years ago

I can agree it wasn’t smart to build up a big economic relationship with China. However, it was not a result of modern “liberalism” as now defined in actual usage. Not the progressivism of Teddy Roosevelt nor FDR, nor even the social-justice tack of liberals today. But maybe neoliberalism, which is more like “classical liberalism” and today’s conservatism: highly given to unfounded faith in the transformative power of markets and capitalism or even moving in that direction.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 years ago

Some of this is over the top- if China tried to close down Western trade in the Pacific, they would lose. We didn’t acquire expensive stealth fighters and submarines for nothing.

peter.z.ho
peter.z.ho
4 years ago

China’s expansionary policies are not against Western interests but to recover what it perceives as the erosion of its own interests. So it isn’t trying to “close down Western trade in the Pacific” as much as enforce its own rights.

What’s left of the wise and judicious policymakers in the United States Military Industrial Complex have already recognised its vulnerabilities if it were to engage China head-on in the Pacific – see the embedded article from The Times, which quotes the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. It would be churlish to think that China and its allies don’t also have access to expensive aircraft and submarines.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  peter.z.ho

I’m afraid you are deluding yourself. Currently and for next five if not ten years the US is supreme in both Nuclear and Conventional armaments and would annihilate China and her Allies in any foreseeable conflict.
The former Soviet Union was wise enough to recognise this back in the early nineties, let us hope China will be do the same.

rleslie66
rleslie66
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

This has been war gamed for 5 years and we have never won.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  rleslie66

Games are just that, Games. The various Schlieffen Plans always won in the General Staff War Games.
Let’s be realistic the US is hardly going to say it could blow China ‘off’ the Planet with consummate ease is it? Would Federal funding continue if it did?
This is business, the US Defence behemoth employs about six million souls and produces perhaps 20% of US industrial output. It has a great interest in exaggerating the Chinese threat.
“Reds under the beds” as we, and perhaps you used to say.
The real problem is the Chinese have been emboldened by their industrial success over the past twenty years, and now feel they have a real chance.
They don’t, but the US will soon have to destroy them to prove it.
Then what? As the undeniable Paramount Power, there will be an irresistible call to slash the Defence Budget, despite the awful consequences that this will undoubtedly bring for employment prospects, industrial output etc.
However I would be interested to know how these ‘Games’ see, say the threat from the USN’s submarine fleet playing out?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

You know this is a non starter of an argument, we won every battle in Vietnam and lost the war, driven crazy by an enemy we didn’t understand, Korea same problem, Leadership that lost control bombing Cambodia and Laos, an army whose morale had sunk to an all time low etc etc.

But the army would not be used right, we would just nuke them, spoken like a true patriot, this would mean the following;
Besides the immediate destruction of cities by nuclear blasts, the potential aftermath of a nuclear war could involve firestorms, a nuclear winter, widespread radiation sickness from fallout, and/or the temporary loss of much modern technology due to electromagnetic pulses.
So Please…..

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Both Korea and Vietnam were ‘Limited Wars’, thus requiring much restraint and substantial ground casualties. All very frustrating!
However, you may recall that Douglas MacArthur, (and others) in order to alleviate this impasse, wished to nuke N Korea off the planet, but was, in the event ‘fired’ by Truman.( A sad mistake.)
To destroy China will not need, indeed mustn’t need an Army on the ground.
May I also say with all sincerity, that your understanding of the consequences of nuclear warfare is somewhat outdated and histrionic.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 years ago
Reply to  peter.z.ho

Chinese rights have a habit of impinging on the rights of others. We don’t take out 99-year leases on territory any more. They do:

https://www.bloomberg.com/n

https://www.bloomberg.com/n

https://thediplomat.com/201

https://www.reuters.com/art

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
4 years ago

Some of this is over the top? This is crazy stuff. He writes, apparently without irony about “Obama’s attempts to reposition US foreign policy away from its destructive and self-defeating entanglement in the Islamic world”, the president who broke up Libya and Syria. If he wants to talk about outcomes then he should talk about how the US had the highest growth rate of any G8 country under Trump, although that may be threatened by COVID-19 (Japan did better in 2020Q1 than the US). He didn’t want to go there.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

Is that growth rate accounting for the gigantic transfer of wealth memorialized in trump’s tax cuts, which were largely used to prop up corporate stock prices?

trump will blame covid for any down quarters (“I take no responsibility at all”) while the fact is that properly run countries handled the virus professionally and are already enjoying market gains.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
4 years ago
Reply to  Joanna Caped

Since you bring up tax reform, Joanna, consider just one component of it, the replacement of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for upratings of income tax brackets with the chained CPI (C-CPI-U). The latter basically eliminates all upper level substitution bias in measuring inflation and so saved the US Treasury money at the expense of upper-class and upper-middle-class taxpayers who now had their tax brackets adjusted by something closer to actual inflation rates. Of course, it had no effect on lower-income Americans since they never pay income tax anyway. This important reform went against the narrative of Trump as being there just for his fellow billionaires so it has been unfairly ignored. The United States is just the second country in the world to use a chain consumer price series with a formula that passes the time reversal test for upratings, the first being Sweden, which uses it for all upratings.(The Swedish CPI uses the Walsh formula, while the C-CPI-U uses the Törnqvist formula; given this choice I would prefer the Walsh formula, because it passes the additivity test, but I digress.) Now the Office of Management and Budget has proposed to uprate the Official Poverty Measure based on the chained CPI rather than the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Wage-Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). In his second term Obama reneged on a budget proposal to uprate Social Security benefits using the chained CPI. The only progress in replacing dysfunctional consumer price series for uprating with the chained CPI in the US has come under Trump.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

Could you seriously, on balance, argue the well-off in the US have been somehow disadvantaged by trump’s term in office? As for chained CPI, that was a distasteful pill Obama offered to take in exchange for Republicans in Congress getting serious about debt reduction. It wasn’t a progressive goal, it was a form of compromise. Naturally the GOP rejected it, making them the first to renege on that particular deal.

They’re so accustomed to acting in bad faith, they can’t turn it around even when it seems to serve their stated goals (though if the GOP is truly in favor of debt reduction, I’ve seen no sign of it. When they’re out of power they use it as a cudgel and when they’re in power and running up unprecedented tabs, it mysteriously disappears as a concern of theirs). Per their usual form, they’d much rather lose than participate in a win-win.

Graeme Cant
Graeme Cant
4 years ago

Yes, we did – in both senses.
Economically, they are astronomically expensive and as the author says, are impoverishing the US.
In the other sense, it will all have been spent for no purpose since the US population will not support their actual use to oppose China, as the author also cogently argues.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Graeme Cant

‘The US population will not be consulted. It will be ‘over’ in hours, such is the nature of Nuclear War.
You also complain of the ‘astronomic expense’. Nonsense it is just another method of wealth distribution’ and supporting US jobs. Nothing wrong with that is there?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes you are right there Mark, the distribution of wealth shows how the cake is divided, and you are absolutely right, the people will not be consulted, as the people have nothing to say about government as over 70% of laws are made for big business and not for the people, I wonder what you believe the point of government is. Another interesting fact is that it costs about 10 million to get elected in the States, where does that money come from. The more big business invests in government lobbyist groups, the more powerful they become, the more powerful the more they invest in government. Is this by the people, of the people, for the people.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

In answer to your question the point of Government is keep us secure and as prosperous, healthy and educated as possible. For example, the Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian, and Swiss models, while obviously not perfect, have done reasonably well over the past seventy years or so.
By comparative analysis with the alternative they have performed brilliantly!
Would anyone seriously want to live in the wretched CCP and dine on boiled dog and fried pangolin, washed down with pulverised rhino horn with noodles, once a week?
.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Well if that is the goal, is it not failing miserably. The state of the weakest in society is a good criteria for how well society is doing morally, but the weakest in American society seem to miss out on their share of that good ol Apple pie. Your education system is brilliant if you Can afford an Ivy League university, the health system, I will take the 5th amendment on that, when compared to Britain’s it is a non runner.
China, seem quite a bit more attractive these days and much less hypocritical.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

2manyraisins
2manyraisins
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Part of Rome was built in a day.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago

No your working class and middle class paid dearly for them.

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
4 years ago

Great analysis that brings together in a coherent way what many of us must have felt over the past years.

One danger is that a break with globalism might lead also to a break with free markets and free trade, which would further diminish us. I fear this may be likely because the same types who created globalisation have no understanding of free trade and not much knowledge of economics or business, never haveing had to take part in either.

Where are the leaders to take us to a better place? Well I doubt there are more than a handful in politics today who even want to do so. Boris shows no inclination to effective economic policies; he thinks you can just spend and spend money you haven’t got on projects that do not yield any return and all will be well.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
4 years ago

One lesson at least is clear. You can only have free trade with nations who you know, really know, to be your dedicated and constant allies. And there ain’t many of those

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Especially now, what country could consider the US a “dedicated and constant” ally? This administration has busted up any treaty it can get its hands on, leading the rest of the world to understand our word is worthless and they can expect no continuity from one president to the next.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
4 years ago
Reply to  Joanna Caped

I’m not sure what”busted up” exactly means, but if you mean breached, that’s not true, is it? Times change, circumstances change, but the USA does stand by its allies so much as it can, from President to President, even this one. It continues to be a beacon of liberty and democracy in the world, and if you are American, as your comment implies, be proud of the USA!

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Otherwise I shall come around with my rope and lynch you….you tell someone else to be proud, how dare you, he is entitled to his perspective on things, what kind of democracy are you talking about? One that tells people what they should feel? That is a strange democracy. Another point is, you are incorrect in calling America a democracy, the only thing that looks democratic is the vote, after that your corrupt politicians are the puppets of big business, they have to be as it cost on average 20 million to get elected to government, is that democracy. your politicians then introduce laws for these businesses, over 70% of new laws where passed in favour of business, is that then democracy? A beacon of liberty you say, I wonder would the black man agree with you and before you answer that, tell me how many of you wonderful people would want to be black in America when you wake up tomorrow morning? If you all raise your hands that would mean that they are treated equally.
It stands by its allies, which ones? The puppet governments of Latin America or the likes of Saudi Arabia who could not spell civil rights let alone apply them. They were fine allies you had in Vietnam, who became multi millionaires almost overnight when you democratised that country!
You live in a bubble I believe and need to wake up to what is reality, and not the reality of your ‘Shirley Temple’ paint brush. The wizard has been exposed long ago but it must have passed you by, are you still on the yellow brick road?

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

We pulled out of the Iran deal and the Paris Accord. trump never skips an opportunity to slag off NATO, which he continues to misunderstand as some kind of dues-collecting organization. Those are just a couple that come to mind. Europe is rattled as it seems to many that the US president is carrying out the heart’s desire of their neighbor Putin instead of honoring the friendships that have helped maintain a peaceful Western world for the past 80 years. You are correct that previous presidents assiduously honored agreements with our allies that were made by their predecessors, but that is not true of trump.

The US is not functioning as a democracy — our elections have been and are being attacked by Russia and probably China, with no effort against that by the president. It’s sure not a beacon of liberty to those who’ve been deported, even after serving in the US armed forces, because they are brown. There are loads of brilliant, brown scientists, physicians, etc. who formerly clamored to gain entry to the US but are now contributing to the progress of other lucky nations after the US instituted travel bans to keep Muslims out of the country, in direct violation of the 1st amendment to the Constitution.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Joanna Caped

Hey, any of the Indian tribes could have told you that, not to be trusted from the start. If the foundation is shaky,,,,,,

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

“Free trade” is a euphemism for many of the problems on the planet today. It is there to enrich the few, and abuse many different systems, including sucking the raw materials out of many corrupt countries which it does gladly. So please, your language is painting a Disney-type picture of reality which is much darker. I am sure there is a classic book somewhere in which the language of the puppet masters trickle down to the puppets to stop them from looking closely at things.

Gerald gwarcuri
Gerald gwarcuri
4 years ago

Oh, Brits! So eager to write off the Nation that threw off your chains and saved your bacon many times. Yes, America has deep, deep troubles, the worst of which is moral decline. And, you? What about the moral climate in the UK? Be hesitant, oh mighty nation, to cast stones of aspersion, or engage in Schadenfreude. As goes the USA, so goes Western Civilization. And, that still includes ( I think ) the UK.

georgetskendall
georgetskendall
4 years ago

Gerald,

Please don’t think Aris Roussinos speaks for Brits.

His hyperbole certainly doesn’t speak for me.

You have serious challenges at the moment, and i have no faith in your current President, but I do have faith in the USA as a whole, that you will overcome them. And, for the sake of the world, it is important that you do.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago

Thanks for your faith. We’re trying, but as you can plainly see, we have serious obstacles including the president, his party, the white supremacy he nurtures, etc. He’s not the cause of all of our problems but my goodness, has he deliberately nurtured our shadow selves.

John Ellis
John Ellis
4 years ago

He speaks for some of them, I reckon. I think his analysis is pretty good. Hyperbolic, a bit. But generally on the money. The only chink of light might be that China is so universally disliked, as someone has already pointed out, it is not inevitable that the CCP will win the current struggle…

2manyraisins
2manyraisins
4 years ago

Thank you, friend.

spangledfritillary
spangledfritillary
4 years ago

Condescension isn’t an appealing vice.
Oh Yanks, remember who your friends are on the way down.

See?

gleaveh
gleaveh
4 years ago

I’m with George Kendall. One writer is not representative of the British people.

John Ellis
John Ellis
4 years ago

Gerald, leaving aside the bacon-saving for the moment (a whole new lovely argument to be had there) could you explain how the US “threw off” the poor benighted Britons’ chains? I would have thought one of the last Western countries to revoke slavery would be less condescending towards the first one to do so….

mmartwork
mmartwork
4 years ago

I was looking for some reference to the wider concern for climate emergency that unifies many agents in civic society, corporate planning & governmental structures.
There’s a pop hit that goes:

“Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go”

But of course I know better & I love America; so allow me to be naive. Surely beyond classical warfare as politics, beyond the populist tactical advantage in segments marred by nostalgia or fear, we’ve witnessed structural shifts due to technological waves encompassing intensification of connectivity. What is the status of the historical subject when multitudes, big data & statistical dynamics influence political outcomes?
Despite hegemonic drives could the revolting masses (hi Ortega) avail a bottom-up push for pop multilateralism as well as new forms of frugal liberalism (Dutch bicycle culture would only strengthen the soft power of America, the America we love -as in individualism for the masses, discourse on democratic rights, rock’n’roll) propelled gradually through the coming of age of those very same involved currently in youth activism around issues like education & environment. Allow me to be very naive sporting a peace badge in green & pink: in case a Chinese Greta should be waving at her Scandinavian counterpart from the other side of the tunnel, would it be too idealistic if we only held back from pinning down with a knee the mere possibility…

craig
craig
4 years ago

Sorry….don’t buy it. This all sounds very fanciful and over the top for the most part.
Swing and a miss.

mike otter
mike otter
4 years ago

Seems this article has it all, anti-globalism, the great Satan USA “mauled” in Iraq, opioid epidemic etc. The world is not simple and reductable to “empires” and “boomer plagues”. Failed states are ones where the owners of the means of production can no longer maintain ownership or do so only through violent oppression or civil war – EG 80s Lebanon, 00s Somalia. So not the USA, if anything more like China. “Globalism” has many fans from faux social democrats like Obama or Blair who like the “melting pot” idea to Bezos and Soros who like the money and low taxation. Its not a movement as much as part of human evolution, like diabetes, H-CoV229e or SARS-CoV2. As far as war on Iraq goes the stats are basic – many more Iraqis lives lost than US ones, and an ungovernable mess left to take still more Iraqi lives. I guess USA 10 Iraq nil ? The opioid epidemic? again same hyperbole that even a guest on Radio4 called “paranoid journalism”. Ascribing this school of journalism to the guardian and the times she said “they find something bad and then spend furious energy looking for the bad actors pulling the strings to make this “bad thing”. Well guess what, junk is a strong high, fun at least to start with, if you hand it out on request at GP’s surgeries you’ll get lots of addicts. US hegemony will fade as Britain’s did, and in a similar way. Empires going out in flames is so 4th centuary, so the basic point of the article is valid but the back up delivery very unsound – ought to be on another platform – Guardian, Independent, China Daily?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

That is just one of many criteria for what is known as a failed state, so you jump a little too quickly into what you want to believe and enrich your beliefs with examples, but think again, your political system has been broken for years, isn’t the first sign of a failed state that the government is no longer representing the people.?

mike otter
mike otter
4 years ago

Eh? what is the one of many criteria? I am onboard with 90+% of what Acemoglu and Robinson say in their “Why Nations Fail”. An excellent book despite David Cameron endorsing it. This a complex issue that’s not reductable to the simple analysis Roussinos offers.

grahambc1
grahambc1
4 years ago

Whilst Trumpian language has offered hope that he might oppose globalism in practice things have not improved, nor were they likely to once the cabinet had been appointed. I suspect Trump is just a puppet as indeed probably Johnson.

Tony Hay
Tony Hay
4 years ago

What a hilarity. One could replace “liberal” with “capitalist” in almost every critical phrase and come up with an equally arguable essay. Equally arguable and equally risible. What a waste of space!

Andrew Turnbull
Andrew Turnbull
4 years ago

A failed state? Yeah, without America you’d be writing this in German or Japanese. Without America, whatever tyrannical despot who would currently be running the world would have 8 billion people in poverty and shackles. And you can thank America’s defense budget, the one you dismiss as impoverishing America’s economy, which economy was humming along until the Wuhan Flu provoked panic and exposed incompetence in many of America’s governors and mayors.

That’s not to say all’s well in the land of milk and honey. But the entire free world still depends on America’s existence to remain free. Maybe read “America” by Dinesh D’Souza rather than, what?, Howard Zinn?

You’re a PhD student? I suggest you start back at Square One. Or at least start at the grade where world history is begun to be taught. And do so at a private school, not at a state-run institution.

tom.leighton.01
tom.leighton.01
4 years ago

read your last sentence.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago

Incompetence in our governors and mayors? Take off the trump-colored glasses. The nation’s failure to respond swiftly and competently is all trump’s, from trying to sweep the virus under the rug, losing us critical weeks, to undermining his own officials’ expert advice, to pooh-poohing the use of masks while pushing a long-lived drug that’s unsuitable against covid19. Can you articulate our federal government’s official policy vis-a-vis this virus? We don’t have one, other than “I hope y’all can figure out a way to not die.”

As the states attempt to find the right balance between keeping everyone at home, which has demonstrably worked to slow the epidemic’s spread, and sending everyone back out to work, shop, and play, trump’s guidance has been a childish combo of “I’ll save you!” (with his ignorant “game changer” drug, which doesn’t work) to “Look at me! I’m the King of Ventilators!” (using the DPA to force companies to mass produce them only bc putin needed; before that, hospitals and governors were told to source them on their own), to tantruming and blaming as the numbers of sick and dead kept growing, and being recalcitrant about testing because he “likes the numbers where they are.” He can only countenance the virus through the lens of profit. He attempted to have a vaccine developed for use only in the US (depraved) in order to leverage sales to other desperate countries. In the event China is first to market with a vaccine, how do you suppose trump would respond to being extorted over it? Funny how his rules of transaction only ever apply to him.

But wait — I see you’re a fan of d’souza. That explains your “American exceptionalism” bent. In the real world, we’ve lost massive amounts of good will since trump lumbered onto the world stage. We are an object of hilarity and fear, not because we’re so tough and mighty but because we have a severely mentally ill president with access to an alarming cache of armaments. We’re no longer the country everyone else must defer to; we’re a moral authority as much as trump’s savage role models in the Philippines, Hungary, Russia . . . you can practically hear him salivating over suits with gawdy epaulets. The fact that military bling is earned mystifies him. Doesn’t the costume make the man?

John Ellis
John Ellis
4 years ago

Andrew, without America, Brits might actually be more likely to be writing in Russian. But I have no illusions that America entered WWII because she was on a mission “to save Democracy”. FDR, maybe, but the US as a nation only came in (against the Japanese) because she was directly attacked by them – and only against the Germans (in my opinion) because Hitler declared war on the US, not the other way around…. Until then, she was happy to sell us some old war materiel (for some lovely military bases) but didn’t look in any danger of saving Europe from the Germans.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
4 years ago
Reply to  John Ellis

When and whether the U.S. would have entered WWII against Germany if Germany hadn’t declared war is of course debatable, but it ignores a great deal to summarize prior U.S. involvement as “she was happy to sell us some old war materiel (for some lovely military bases).”

In addition to Destroyers for Bases and Lend/Lease, the U.S. started escorting Atlantic convoys west of Iceland in early 1941. That turned into a low-level, undeclared war between U.S. escorts and U-Boats, including the sinking of the USS Reuben James by a U-Boat on October 31, 1941 (about 5 weeks before Pearl Harbor).

stevescoe
stevescoe
4 years ago

“Without America you’d be writing this in German or Japanese” Very boomer tier analysis. And I know it’s boomer tier because it’s the typical boomer response to mythologize WW2 whenever America is criticized.

russell.stence
russell.stence
4 years ago

America’s response to Mr. Roussinos, as knowledgeable and insightful as he has proven himself in this thoughtful and thought-provoking article: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske
4 years ago

“It was in winning the first Cold War that the United States set the stage for its own eclipse…” – What should the US have done? Not won the Cold War? The general tone of this article is a sort of peak othering of everyone else as stupid or blundering – but not a single granular alternative / specific insight into who should have done what, differently, when?

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
4 years ago

For China read the CCP. That is the reality. If the CCP falters it will fall and be replaced. The weakness of all authoritarian systems is that if those in power give away any of their power then they are at risk. No wonder the CCP is in an existential fight with the USA and by extension the West. It has to do so or it will be weakened.
History is full of failed autocracies.They have no mechanism for change of course other than by top down direction.
Western democracies have proved resilient particularly in the Anglosphere. We can change course and do.
The CCP fears the West. It can see how Hong Kong and Taiwan have taken to Western ideas . What is left for the CCP?
Crushing Hong Kong and Taiwan but that is admitting defeat. Defeat of it’s governing ideas. It is remarkable how Japan adopted Western ways in 1945. That lesson is not lost on the CCP.

Tom Hawk
Tom Hawk
4 years ago

Liberal values, promote and demand environment protection, workers rghts, social support, rule of law, human rights etc. Whilst I do not in any way disagree with such aspirations, indeed I would not much care to live in a heavily polluted city such as the UK had during the industrial revolution, they add significant costs to production.

It is not a level playing field to demand that UK industry competes with Chinese manufacturing when the Chinese company has no such costs. It is one thing to compete against a country that works harder or is more efficient, but it is another to compete with an economy that des not adopt the safeguards we impose on our own industry.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago

A bit hyperbolic, but a good piece – and certainly thought provoking.

Sadly it doesn’t appear to have provoked much thought on here.

We’ve had defensiveness about criticism of America (hard to give a wake up call without some criticism), upset that the piece isn’t about the readers particular hobby horse, and accusations both that the author is a lefty and that he sees the world through trump tinted glasses. And some have little to say but call it dumb – but present no argument.

Stick with it Aris – interesting piece.

Bill Brookman
Bill Brookman
4 years ago

Brilliant. And I nearly passed over it thinking the title was Guardian-eze click-bait.

nickmaier72
nickmaier72
4 years ago

Unmentioned in the article is the role of the Federal Reserve in the demise of American manufacturing and the distortion of the federal budget and federal spending. When Nixon closed the gold window in 1973, the Fed began pursuing its inflationary policies that drove up the cost of everything including labor. As wages and raw material began their inflationary rise, manufacturers had a difficult choice to make. They could not control the cost of raw materials but they could control the cost of labor by outsourcing to emerging markets. Their other alternative was to simply go out of business because their costs were too high. They made a rational choice and were cheered on by the Globalists. The Fed then proceeded to distort and usurp the role of Congress to negotiate in good faith a budget that was based on actual tax receipts. The Fed was more than happy to support all budget deficits to support expansionist wars, cheap money to support internet and housing bubbles and now, most nakedly, they are buying high yield debt of companies that should have been in bankruptcy long ago without Fed largess. When America abandoned sound money and threw the keys to the car to the Fed was the beginning of the end.

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
3 years ago

The bar for “failed state” is quite low these
days. Just last week I read that the UK was a failed state. Aren’t we exaggerating
a bit? Somalia is a failed state! The US just had the largest participated
election in its history. All the checks and balances worked! People
demonstrated remarkable sophistication in the way they voted and did it again
in Georgia. The judges appointed by Trump respected the law. The country still
works and its institutions still hold the fort.

rtsprenger2
rtsprenger2
3 years ago

I live in Brazil and from experience I can assure that the US is not a failed state, nor near being one. Yes, it suffers from extreme partisanship and bad management of the Covid crisis, but bringing the failed state story, well, seems to me out of place.

Rag Marrss
Rag Marrss
4 years ago

In Science we call it: in statu nascendi – the moment it begins… This is such a moment – leading to violence, chaos, destruction, EVIL. The most EVIL Leader will Hijack the momentum and drive the Nation to WAR and total destruction. We are in a situation like anything is possible, anything can happen. And it will be BAD…

As a Biologist – I study Calhoun : The Behavioral Sink. When a population has too much comfort and security – it descends into parasitism and declines to extinction. We are past our comfort
Apex and we will self extinct. We sink ever faster. Global event – nobody can stop. We only can accelerate it to sink faster…

Ellie K
Ellie K
4 years ago
Reply to  Rag Marrss

Calhoun was not referring to the plight of impoverished, hopeless midwesterners whose jobs & futures in manufacturing and industry were offshored for no good reason other than the greed of financial speculators and a very few company executives. You say you have too much comfort and security: they do not. How much security do you have, in light of China’s mercantilist and military expansionism?

Who is this? “The most EVIL Leader will Hijack the momentum and drive the Nation to WAR and total destruction.” Is it President Trump? If so, why is he EVIL?

mike otter
mike otter
4 years ago
Reply to  Rag Marrss

So you can really analyse and predict what a given population will do at a point in time? clever “science” eh? please can you give me the spot prices for WTI oil, orange juice and gold in June w1 2021 and also who will win the Qatar world cup?

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago
Reply to  Rag Marrss

Less use of upper case please.

mike otter
mike otter
4 years ago
Reply to  Rag Marrss

Science always reaches a low point before the grown ups re-assert control….it appears to work in cycles like economies or the biosphere. Eugenecists thought themselves scientists in the 30s and that didn’t end well. I expect the same will happen to today’s “the end of the world is certain and its nigh” brigade. Perhaps the writer can give us readers some scientific predictions that might be more helpful, eg tips for horse racing winners or future share prices?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Rag, I think Calhoun was slated for much of his transference from rats to humans, so, I find it a tough one to take on board though very interesting, but the question then arises, how come Japan has not gone down the sink?

Paul Dobbs
Paul Dobbs
4 years ago

Very interesting, and this American finds this essay to be astute and welcome criticism. But its strength, a clear focus on economics and foreign relations, is also a weakness, or at least a shortfall, that I want to note.

“In this coming struggle, America is starting with a great and self-inflicted handicap.” The essay identifies the handicap as naiveté concerning globalism, and America’s consequential inability to effect, well, just about anything useful in world affairs. But, but, but, there’s an elephant in the room of this discussion!

America’s self-inflicted handicap is far greater than the essay suggests, and it is the root cause of the noted naiveté and paralysis. And it is currently on view, front and center: deeply ingrained racism. For people of color, the social contract has been badly broken for centuries. But only now, during the last decade, the video cameras on ubiquitous mobile phones are capturing such a steady stream of evidence as to raise consciousness of people of color (and others) to an intolerable level.

The brokenness of the contract Is disgusting and life-threatening to its victims. It is no longer tolerable for any honest person of any perceived or assumed “color.”

If the bloody curtain of the racism charade were lifted, Americans would be able to see more clearly, to look beyond the myth of exceptionalism, and to recognize, among other things, the economic and political realities the essay points out. If the majority of Americans were liberated from the burden of believing in “Whiteness” and feeling compelled to protect the privileges of “Whiteness,” they would not have elected Donald Trump and his team of grafting clowns.

Racism is at the core of America’s weakness. James Baldwin predicted it long before the mobile phone put the unrelenting river of evidence in front of the world’s eyes: “The future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or dark as the future of the country.”

David George
David George
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Dobbs

America voted in a half African president and candidates for the coming election seem to be intent (sometimes to the point of absurdity) on insisting on some non European ancestry. The people are happy to support coloured entertainers, sportsmen, businesses and local politicians. Doesn’t sound very racist.
From what I’ve seen the Chinese are thoroughly obsessed by race and their own superiority, treating and regarding dark skinned people appallingly. On a recent visit to Tonga, which is rapidly devolving into a Chinese vassal state, the contempt they showed towards the native Tongans was something we westerners would regard, rightly, as thoroughly abhorrent.
While African Americans have their own problems, they’re mostly nothing to do with racism. Coloured immigrants are keen to come to America knowing they will have a good chance at success and prosperity. Indian, Chinese and Nigerian immigrants and their offspring are the highest earning demographic, higher than native born Europeans.
Doesn’t sound very racist.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago
Reply to  David George

Good god. “Coloured”? We happily allow them to entertain us?

If our country falls to this white supremacist mindset, and with the ugliness trump has brought to the surface, it well might — how long exactly do you think it will take ambitious and talented people to steer away from the US as a place to start careers and families? Oh wait, too late; the cream of the crop is already too smart to aim for a country that randomly asserts its bigotry through travel bans and concentration camps of would-be immigrants. Canada and Australia have surpassed us in attracting immigrants who have alternatives. The next wave of innovation won’t originate here.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  David George

Yes, if they can dance, oh and run and jump, why they’ll be like Christians to the lions, you live a delusional life if this is your perspective, and your guarded communities strengthen this delusion, that reality can be created by putting a guard at our door, why? To stop reality entering, you can run away from your problems and they are huge and they are many, or you can stay on your delusion yellow brick road, but hell you’ll be disappointed when you discover who the great wizard is..Dream on,

By quoting Fox News and other fashionable opinions, you are just showing me that you live in an Echo Chamber, you really have to start thinking for yourself, I know they never taught you that at school, but hell, it is never too late to start. Why would you come to a site called ‘Unherd’ if you only want to echo this stuff. I thought the people here were independent thinkers, pretty sad to see they as much prisoners of their own thinking as the rest of the herd. You better get back to them quickly, this site is probably not for you.

David George
David George
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Dobbs

The current BLM and Antifa orchestrated riots and mayhem are the product of one of the most pernicious conspiracy myths: systemic American racism.

“Imagine if anti-vaxxers were rioting, burning and looting across America’s major cities. Imagine if store owners were being beaten to death by thugs convinced that Bill Gates was impurifying their precious bodily fluids. Imagine if celebrity chefs and soccer moms were besieging the White House.

The Legacy press and social media would be in a frenzy of condemnation of violent, lunatic conspiracy theorists plunging the nation into a war zone.
Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening now.

Black Lives Matter and its associated lunacy is nothing more than the loudest, most violent conspiracy theory in the Western world.”
“America is not uniquely, or even very much racist at all: “America is not a racist country,” says black activist Candace Owens. Black Americans are not being hunted down. Police aren’t routinely shooting unarmed black men. Neither is anyone else.”

Dozens of American cities are burning because of willful lies and insane conspiracy theories.”

https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/0

johntshea2
johntshea2
4 years ago

Nice clickbait title! The author makes our present age sound very much like the 1970s, just with China replacing the USSR. Otherwise it’s the same old doom and gloom. Which is odd, given the author wasn’t even born the last time the American Empire “collapsed”.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
4 years ago

Sonny Boy, though what you say about the Communist scum Clinton, Obama and all DemocratSlaveryParty POLs is true, your “demise” of America is ridiculous. I was writing a thesis on the US allowing its industrial base to decline in 1986 at the NavalPost Grad School. America will be here long after your putrid corpse and that of Xi’s are moldering in your collective graves. Now go bow down to the Arabs and others of their ilk youngster. You got a lot to learn.

Jacob Mason
Jacob Mason
4 years ago

Author doesn’t like American world leadership. I agree with some of this. Not sure what’s the connection to a failed state.

Rome’s representative government fell some 200ish years before it’s height of expanse and power.

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Jacob Mason

I haven’t noticed American world leadership myself, though I did notice a group of leaders on the news laughing at Trump, maybe that was a new type of respect.

Mick Jackson
Mick Jackson
4 years ago

He leaves aside Obama’s brilliant plan to use the TPP to cut out China in the huge Pacific market. Trump cancelled it. He attacks the left whenever he can but when the right screws up e.g. Iraq 2003 he just blames American elites.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
4 years ago

I think what is often missed in these sorts of analysis, however good it is, is the supranational nature of the USA. All the flaws are easy to see, a diverse state system that is simply treated as factors of production for the Federacy.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/

Perhaps this was necessary in order to utilise economies of scale and grow its supranational power but with state factors of production increasingly centralised via a pliant or corrupt system of governors and a body of powerful mercantilist industrialists, then the progressive loss of state self determination and autonomy over its resources gives way to a system of client managerial states.

This slow internal destruction of state resilience which increasingly becomes dependent on the Federacy for viability becomes realistic conflict theory scrabbling for limited attention and finite scarce resources.

This is the EU and what would become of the EU if the Brussels Federacy had its wicked way. Managerial client EU states pay homage to the European Roundtable of Industrialists in order to grow EU’s might whilst at the same time, weakening the periphery and strengthening the core.

The solution in both cases is a draw back from federacy towards confederacy and the hope that a system of more or less cooperative autonomous states brings them back to a long lasting systemic resilience.

Go Away Please
Go Away Please
4 years ago

Aris should have stuck to writing about the US and globalisation and foreign affairs. Shoe-horning that bit about the virus was pointless and nonsensical. Linking the effect globalisation and de-industrialisation has had on the anger demonstrated in the current state of affairs following the Floyd business could have been done without coronavirus statistics being (erroneously) used.

involutionary
involutionary
4 years ago

“…many members of America’s elite have sought to get rich personally by selling or renting out America’s crown jewels”intellectual property, manufacturing capacity, high-end real estate, even university resources”to the elite of another country.” This.

arpanam2003
arpanam2003
4 years ago

America is great due to its foundational LIBERALISM

It’s decline is due to subverting the democracy by insidious hagemony of capitalistic prolifgacy.

This should be a warning for International Aspirations which is feasible only through ‘ONE WORLD ONE FAMILY’ Global Federalism of ‘COMMUNITY RULE’ fashioned after the slow but steady INDIAN MODEL – not to mistake the Modi model- of DEMOCRATIC, SOCIALIST SECULAR EGALITARIAN COMMUNITIES regaining it’s ancient back bone of GRAMRAJYA ( county rule), vitiated by the NATIONALISATION after its Independence in 1947 and attrition suffered in recent COMMERCIAL GLOBALISATION.

rcoughli5
rcoughli5
4 years ago

I thought the essay was like Stephen Walt’s Hell of Good Intentions on steroids, except here there is no plan B (offshore balancing) because the United States is so irreversibly corrupted by its elite classes – whether these are the foreign policy establishment – the blob – or the corporate elite or Donald Trump and his Republican minions.

Also interesting is the discussion of the Michael Lind and his view that the United States is oscillating between authoritarian populism and oligarchic neoliberalism. Of course for Lind, there is the alternative to rebuilding democratic pluralism in the United States, although he leaves his readers with little idea of how this might happen. Also worthy of discussion, I think, would be Lind’s advocacy, along with Michael Atkinson, of naitonal developmentalism.

One criticism that I would offer here of this piece is that it is similar to what E.H. Carr referred to as the excesses of the realism – simply the analysis of the power relations with no vision of what the world could be.

Joanna Caped
Joanna Caped
4 years ago

The last war started by “liberals” in the US was Vietnam. We were afraid of communism. All other engagements were undertaken by Republicans with illiberal instincts and eyes on the money. Bush I & II, d**k Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and, god help us, John Bolton — all liberals? That doesn’t work, even if you’re using the “classicial liberal” copout.

Rob Grayson
Rob Grayson
4 years ago

What a lot of pretentious twaddle. I’m well aware of the decline of the American empire, but had hoped to read something more than the tedious, drawn-out, high-sounding but largely vacuous stream of rhetoric of which this essay mainly consists. Disappointing.

Zorost Zorost
Zorost Zorost
4 years ago

“the architects of America’s endless policy failures, like the Iraq War, are not punished by the system, but awarded further sinecures and promotions”

That is a sign of corruption, not incompetence. In other words, people in power benefited somehow from those failures. The question is who benefits from collapsed ME states?

evdocmaker
evdocmaker
4 years ago

The US Empire or American Empire was not born in 1945 it was born in 1898 and had been a work in progress since the inception of the USA. They had an imperialist mentality 100 years before they had the muscle to back it up.

calljimroth
calljimroth
4 years ago

This article is an interesting combination of truth and complete bullshit. For example, it is certainly true that America wasted tremendous resources in the Middle East. However, the resources were expended with the sordid intention of securing oil resources, not to spread “liberal values”. Equally foolish is the author’s claim that the migration of American industry to China was a left-wing project. American industry has never been owned by “lefties” and the political power purchased by the owners of industry has never been used to promote left-wing ideals. The article fails as rational analysis and is even weaker as propaganda, since the lies of propaganda must be simply stated. Just as well the author is spending his bile in fruitless wordplay, since he might do real harm if he actually engaged in society.

acallforhonesty
acallforhonesty
4 years ago

Having had a keen interest in history for some sixty years and having lived in two failed states I would have no hesitation in saying that the USA like many other countries is in a mess as far as politics is concerned. However, to say America is a failed state is a premature opinion. There will be more failed states in the next century but America is not there yet.

Tim Beard
Tim Beard
4 years ago

Socialism poisons everything Even the USA
Laid low by the useless idiots and useful idiots of the 100+ year old idiot ideology that has never worked anywhere ever.
Grim times

jmaxwellmaxwell
jmaxwellmaxwell
4 years ago

Outstanding essay! Accurate, and very insightful.

John Loty
John Loty
4 years ago

Thank you for this informative and well-reasoned article.
The challenge now is indeed a great one.
Getting to some coherent, realistic shared understanding of our current realities…is a pre-requisite to any plan of action.
I am grateful that I do not live in America as I think there will be lots more turmoil ahead. I hope I am wrong about that!

With all the “war talk” that appears to prevalent…war on drugs, poverty etc…promoted as a strategy…go to war on xyz…I am reminded of some wisdom to be found in the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text

“If we fight evil blow for blow…evil will win”

Hopefully those charged with suggesting solutions will instead search for
real possibilities of good that benefits all and then work towards those goals.

Cheers

b1daly
b1daly
4 years ago

I’m reminded of the saying “in God we trust, the rest need data” as a response to this hyperbolic essay. It is implicitly a ‘counter factual’ style argument, yet makes no attempt to define the hypothetically superior path the US did not take. Its elegiac tone also harkens to a golden era of US history without really committing to defining it. While the post war period may have left the US in a relatively improved position compared to ROW, by no objective measure could life in the US be argued to be superior in 50s and 60s to now.

Arguments about the validity of ‘comparative advantage’ between nations aside, the reality is that China has given the US a huge proportion of its excess productive capacity in exchange for dollars, a commodity which we can generate at a very low cost. To make an economic argument that this was a ‘bad deal’ because it is not maintainable indefinitely is a form of magical thinking.

Globally human well being has flourished in the past 100 years, and the US has done better than most. We do not need to undertake drastic restructuring of international trade relationships or our industrial base to ameliorate our social problems. We simply need to accept that there are systemic forces that are leading to increasing inequality, and use tried and true methods of governance to target those problems directly.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
4 years ago

In debted to china. What does this really mean… China swapped real merchandise for small bits of paper that America can print more of at anytime. What are the bits of paper realty worth outside of America? In my country I cannot buy anything with a dollar bill. Back to the original question, who is the fool? Swapping real flip flops for bits of worthless paper. Ok, you can buy things in the USA with the dollars you traded until they decide you can’t, what then? You have enough money from selling flip flops that you can afford to buy Intel but you can’t cos they won’t let you…. at this level of the game where do you go next. There is no way a financial war can be won unless the other side agrees. Scary times.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
4 years ago

Why does it seem as if the best and the most able of Britain were ejected by the resident ruling class at the time due to the fear of what they may do if they stayed at home. The pioneers, the rule breakers and the free thinkers. What else did the UK loose at that time and afterwards, when it seeded itself to form the roots of so many fledgling states then both physically but more importantly mentally, as an idea. This shared identity runs deep and still feels strong even today in these troubled times. America came to the aid of the old world in the past to defend the ideas of freedom and self determination may be now is the time for reciprocating?

voodoopolitics
voodoopolitics
3 years ago

Is the author paid by China or Russia? I haven’t read such an anti-American screed since I last tuned in to Kremlin TV.

bob alob
bob alob
4 years ago

A startling essay, China is quick off the mark and cannot fail, given the divided nature of the western democracies.

Bill Gaffney
Bill Gaffney
4 years ago
Reply to  bob alob

Tsk, tsk, tsk….

Otto Christensen
Otto Christensen
4 years ago

Speculative wishful thinking from a left wing naive “educated” pov. America is not what is seen on MSM or Fox for that matter. So easy to confuse entertainment with reality. Trade negotiation continue behind the facade and breast beating. The writer sees world affairs from 19 C theories about the rise and fall of Empire. O so British…..

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
4 years ago

I blame this inexperienced wannabe’s tutors. I would ask them Is it necessary to write at such length on a subject that the student clearly has little knowledge of. Lesson for student take a gap year in the real world. Tutors – please explain to over excitable young people that less is more or quality of writing is best, not quantity. 2 out of 10. Could do better.

John Ellis
John Ellis
4 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Fruin

How about a counter-argument then, smarty-pants?

Liam O Conlochs
Liam O Conlochs
4 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Fruin

This is arrogance that should not be allowed, everyone is entitled to give their perspectives, after all, if there is one thing that is certain is the following, each and every point we make is just perspective nothing else, nothing is Gospel truth here, and if it was it should be held up to the light!

Dean Dvorak
Dean Dvorak
4 years ago

Written from a country that still worships an inbred, medieval royalty. We were right to defeat you in 1776 and should have let the Germans finish you off.