The Cons of War & Trade, Colltalers
A debate worth having these days is whether geopolitical hegemony is still determined by a country’s arsenal, or its ability to dominate global trade. As battle lines are no longer defined by traditional 20th century ideologies, a new, more accurate yardstick may be needed.
In this context, the U.S. is becoming ever more identified with the power of its weaponry industry, high firepower and outrageous profits, from a state of permanent worldwide war. And China is retaking a spot that it may have held in antiquity: the world’s de facto largest economy.
Our contemporary history gets a fresh appreciation under this new dichotomy. The threat of conflicts for global dominance may not be triggered by traditional Left-Right ideological sides, but by local, trade and territorial disputes, with equal risk for out-of-control escalation.
The impact of such a tectonic shift in world relations has yet to be determined, of course. But we always seem to be on the verge of a military strike by the U.S., even if solely to prove a political point. And China, when it finally re-calibrates its commercial balance, may realistically bring the world to its knees, just because it may find important to flex its industrial might. Both possibilities, albeit scary, are perfectly plausible.
That old values, dating back from the republican French Revolution, no longer fit the dizzying complexity of geopolitical and economic relations that marks the world today, packs no great surprise. But the consequences of going back to a new Colonialism, where countries are invaded so to grant their invaders’ territorial advantage, or to a widespread Discovery Era-style trade wars, are downright unpredictable.
It’s instructive to take just such possibilities for a quick spin, in the light of some news that may have gotten lost in last week’s shuffle.
First it’s the absolutely sobering news that the Iraqi city of Mosul was retaken from Daesh’s control by Iraqi and U.S. forces, which gave no one reason for jubilation. The human cost, the civilian death toll, cruelty of combatants, and the carnage left behind are beyond staggering.
Similarly to what happened a few months ago in Aleppo, when the guns were finally silenced, everybody and everything was lost, including reason and morals. As it signals the way wars may be fought, what happened in Mosul confirms two major certainties about today’s geopolitics: there will be more just like it; and weaponmaker stocks are bound to break records, making their investors very rich indeed.
These are powerful arguments for defense contractors and warmongers to be bullish about what everybody else with a conscience is sick about it: the business of endless war is now an acceptable national economic model. Thus, there’s no end in sight for the Afghan war.
To contrast all that, China reporting last week that its GDP grew 6.9% in the second quarter of this year, gives many some solace, as it’s certainly better news than anything else coming from Asia these days. No small feat to feed and employ the world’s Continue reading