For weeks U.S. gunmen have been announcing they are getting ready to "take" the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan. U.S. gunmen have a long history of taking things, from the lands around Plymouth, Massachusetts and Jamestown, Virginia in the 1600s to the nation of Iraq. It would be unwise to bet against them, unless the odds were good. On the other hand the Afghani tribes have expelled everyone who has tried to grab their land in the past few centuries. It would be unwise to bet against them, too. The Soviet Union (USSR) could not hold Kandahar, and collapsed about three years after withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in Japan everyone found out this weekend that they are still subjects of the United States. President of the United States Barack Obama ordered Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to allow Okinawa to continue to be used as a U.S. military base, and despite a great deal of national indignation, Hatoyama announced yesterday that he was following orders. What can he do? After U.S. gunmen grabbed Japan during World War II, they wrote Japan a constitution that prohibits it from being able to arm itself for defense against the United States. Invading Japan would be easier that invading North Korea or Iraq.
Supposedly in return Japan can hide behind the U.S. military umbrella. That would be the world's most expensive umbrella, and I am not the only one wondering how long the U.S. taxpayer will be willing to pay for it. One of the main aspects of the umbrella was encircling China, a nation U.S. gunmen thought they had grabbed fair and square during World War II. Only Mao & comrades did not play fair, they took their nation from American puppet Chiang Kai-shek. American taxpayers have been paying for the defense of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines every since.
Which is remarkably stupid, but at the end of World War II the United States was the only nation in the world that had factories that were in running order (everyone else's had been bombed), so for decades we could do stupid things without paying much of a penalty.
China could be a military threat to its neighbors, but it isn't really because that is one very tough neighborhood the Chinese live in. They've got the Russians to the north and west and India to the Southwest, both very capable nations. The Vietnamese are capable of repulsing anyone, as they showed during the 1960s. Taiwan has not been tested in war but is technologically very capable. Japan could be a great military power if only it would break with the U.S. That leaves the Philippines, which U.S. gunmen grabbed at the end of the 19th century. The Philippines China could grab; any major power could grab the Philippines, but only if no other power intervened.
The U.S. could still be leading the world economically because we live in a nice neighborhood. With only Canada and Mexico for neighbors, we should need almost no military spending at all.
My best guess is the U.S. will be defeated in Afghanistan. That is the easy part. The question is, will this cause the U.S. empire to collapse like the Soviet Union did? Like the British Empire did after World War II? And if yes, how quickly?
Be certain that intelligence officers in most nations, but in particular in China, France, Russia, Great Britain, and India are asking themselves this question and outlining scenarios for it. All of them are planning to stab the U.S. in the back as soon as we are weak enough to make it safe, and who's to blame them?
Americans are out of work, which is lost productivity. Defense spending is at a peak, which is wasted productivity. The national debt is a staggering load to carry, which will sap future productivity. The national deficit seems necessary to prevent renewed recession, but is rapidly inflating the national debt. There is no real plan to make American's productive again. There is just hope in free enterprise voodoo mixed with government-subsidized voodoo.
So what I think we should consider is: hard landing, or soft landing? In a hard landing the U.S. economy tanks and military spending has to be cut because people, domestic and foreign, will refuse to lend more money to the United States Treasury. In other words, a sovereign debt crisis like Greece is experiencing will result in a power struggle between the capitalists who are connected to the military and the capitalists who see their own businesses being destroyed by the military budget.
In a soft landing some politicians start severely trimming U.S. military commitments before they lead to economic suicide. I don't know who those politicians would be. That kind of politician is usually filtered out of the American political process long before they get to the U.S. House of Representatives.
So I'm figuring on a hard landing. But I don't think it is going to happen until the next economic down cycle, which may not be until 2015. We should have a relatively long up cycle because we dipped so low in 2009.
See also: Okinawa, Commodore Perry, and the Lew Chew Raid [March 8, 2010]