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Declining Economic and Military Power Essay

Declining Economic and Military Power Essay

As the United States prepared to enter the twenty-first century, it could reflect upon the fact that the twentieth century was truly the American century, even with its declining economic hegemony and resulting lose of military hegemony. The U. S. entry into World War I tilted the balance against the triple alliance. It was the U. S. forces that played the major part in the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II .

It was the U. S.men and material that contained Soviet Communist expansion until it self-destructed.

Even though its military power was unrivaled, the United States had to confront the re-emergence of traditional isolationism at home, the creation of shifting coalitions around the world, and most importantly, its declining economic power in the world. In the 1940s and the 1950s, the United States was extraordinarily competitive in the world market . Virtually anything it produced, it could sell.

Although partly the aftermath of World War II, which had destroyed most of America’s industrial competitors, this situation also reflected an American monopoly in high-technology industries and American productivity in lower-technology ones.

The United States had a handsome surplus in its international balance of trade, and this surplus could in turn finance large-scale expenditures on U. S. military forces to be deployed overseas in the territories of America’s allies, including West Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan.

A productive and competitive economy with high employment also provided a healthy base for federal taxation and spending. In such a happy condition, the United States could maintain a vast system of military alliances and spend 10 percent of its GNP on defense. In the slogan of the Eisenhower administration , the former was underwritten by the latter. Then all this started to change with seeming suddenness. Japan appeared to surge forward at incredible speed. Through the 1970s it’s rising indices of industrial production seemed to propel it above the industrial levels of the United Kingdom, the European Community, the Untied States.

As the Soviet Union faltered and then collapsed, Japan and subsequently also West Germany increasingly became the symbols of so-called young economies, in which “organized capitalism” could achieve miracles which old capitalism could no longer deliver. The inventory of China and Japan’s successes was stressed frequently . Its rapid pace of economic growth, its systematic allocation of vast resources to gross fixed capital formation, its obvious progress in high-tech consumer-oriented production, and its impressive penetration of the global markets all received their due.

In contrast, the United States was increasingly depicted as an aging, stumbling giant, losing its preeminence and its leading abilities. From the mid 1970s on, a vast literature asserted with much conviction that the United States was “deindustrializing,” losing the battle of high tech and unduly shifting its labor force toward services while complacently accommodating itself to falling productivity, low rates of saving, low rates of capital formation, failure in export markets, incessant trade deficits, and growing international indebtedness .

If we simply add together economic and military power there is little doubt that the United States remains the hegemon. But it is important to recognize that military hegemon is dependent on economic hegemony, because the military is wildly expensive. Declining economic hegemony creates pressure to cut back on military expenditures. This pressure has been temporarily relieved because of the recent economic growth and the new revenues available to the U. S. federal state. However, it is doubtful that this trend of relatively greater economic growth will continue.

Indeed, a collapse of the stock bubble could lead to a U. S. economic crisis that would force a major restructuring of its military capabilities and increase the pressure for other core states to take up the slack. Whether this happens quickly or slowly, predictions show that U. S. economic hegemony will continue to decline, and its military hegemony will follow. This will lead to a new period in which economic power and military power come once again to be recalibrated in a system of more equally powerful and competing core states.

This current situation is almost similar in most structural respects to that at the end of the nineteenth century. Declining Britain was still advocating free trade, while the other core states and upwardly mobile semi-peripheries were shifting back to economic nationalism and protectionism. By arguing whether or not this happens in the next few years and to what could prevent another cycle of war over world leadership in the last chapter, a new window of vulnerability to warfare among core states will arrive.

The institutional structures of global collective security will again be tested. It is in all humanity’s interest that these institutions be strong enough to prevent another war among core states. With the termination of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Empire in the early 1990s, it became clear that there were no large specific military threats facing the United States . As General Colin Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) from 1898 to 1993, noted in early 1992, the real threat we (the United States) now face is the threat of the unknown, the uncertain.

Moreover, despite reductions in its defense capabilities from their Cold War levels, the United States was still far superior militarily to any nation or likely combination of nations in the world. The challenge for the United States was to maintain the sufficient order in the international system so that it could pursue its economic interests. At the end of the Cold War, the United States became one of the largest importer and exporter . Its economic well-being was consequently almost totally dependent upon the absence of chaos in the international arena.

Since no one nation posed a specific military threat to the United States like the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the Pentagon was compelled to develop illustrative situations or scenarios in which American interests could be sufficiently jeopardized so that military force would have to be used. Before, there were also seven scenarios created in order to illustrate possibilities of a withdrawal of an attack on Iraqi or a battle plan on Baghdad . In early 1992, the Pentagon developed seven more scenarios with regards to the countries that could launch an attack against them.

The first scenario is a repeat of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. This scenario assumes that sometime in the mid 1990s, the world’s support for the embargo against Iraq slackens, the regime in Iraq rebuilds its military to 1990 levels, and launches a blitzkrieg attack southward. Unlike August 1990, the Iraqis do not stop at the Saudi border, but move into northeastern Saudi Arabia and take control of its oil fields and major export terminals before the United States and its coalition forces can respond.

The second illustrative scenario involves an all-out attack on South Korea by some 300,000 North Koreans. To help the South Korean forces counter this invasion, the United States would deploy five combat divisions to augment South Korea’s 800,000-man army. In addition, this nation would send five aircraft carrier battle groups, two Marine expeditionary forces and 20 land-based air squadrons. This force of about 250,000 Americans and 1 million South Koreans would take about three months to prevail against the forces of Kim II Sung. The third scenario is a combination of the first two.

It assumes that the Iraqi and North Korean invasions occur simultaneously and that the United States has to fight a two-front war with over 500,000 people, some 5,000 miles apart. The fourth scenario involves an invasion of the Baltics by an expansionist, authoritarian government in Russia . The Pentagon postulates that 18 Russian and six Belarusian divisions would attack along the Lithuanian-Polish border to “protect Russian minorities” living in the Baltics. To respond to this situation, the U. S. would deploy seven combat divisions, 49 land-based air squadrons, six aircraft battle groups, and a Marine expeditionary force.

Augmented by an additional 11 ground-divisions and 17 tactical fighter squadrons from NATO, Western forces would prevail in three months. The fifth and sixth scenarios involve one-wee invasions of the Philippines and Panama. The invasion of the Philippines by Marine amphibious forces and army paratroopers is made necessary by the chaos that results from a failed coup and endangers some 5,000 Americans in Manila. The Panamanian invasion of airborne and amphibious troops follows from an attempt by rightwing elements close the Panama Canal.

The final scenario is based on the possibility that in the next century a resurgent Russia or an emerging superpower adapts an adversarial military strategy and capability to threaten U. S. interests around the world. The U. S. response would be to reconstitute its Cold War military force and its alliance strategy. The first and second scenarios were also the focus of the Clinton Administration’s Bottom-Up Review, published in September 1993. Despite all these scenarios and the decline in both economic and military hegemony, the United States can still be considered to be on top of its league.

In addition to this, the end of the Cold War resulted to the shifting of budget due to the cutting or decrease of military budget . Despite the decrease in the economy of the United States and the rapid growth of its competitors such as China, still, the GDP of United States is greater . As such, just like a spring, it can be said that United States is merely pulling itself back in order to spring further beyond the others.

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