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The United States of America is no longer a Superpower, it used to be, but it can no longer claim such, and what’s more, the entire world knows it. (Such is the case, even if Americans refuse to admit it; nay, much because Americans are incapable of viewing it.)
(This article is written by guest-blogger, scientist, defense industry expert, and author, Mordechai Ben-Menachem)
23 Adar 5773 (5 March 2013)
The definition of a “Superpower” is a nation that can project power, anywhere in the world, at short notice. To differentiate, the definition of a “Regional Power” is a nation that can project power within its region (the notion of ‘notice’ is one measure of its degree of power within that region, relative to rival powers).
Previously, at least from the time of Eisenhower until the time of George W. Bush, the US was clearly a Superpower, with the Russian Empire (USSR) as a rival power for part of that time. History showed that the US was the superior superpower with the collapse of the USSR and formation of the existing Russian state. Geographic size is not a prime factor, access to resources is. Power takes many forms, not all military, but military power must empower others for affectivity; “… carry a big stick” as international relations’ key.
David Goldman claimed in November, “America is in incipient decline.” I disagree. Decline began either with the first Bush or with Clinton. Obama is reaping the fruits of the incipient decline he inherited, and is taking it further. He desires such, while his predecessors’ orientations were limited their own ego-needs. Clinton’s administration can best be characterized as “eat, drink and have sex; who cares what happens after my term is finished”. I believe Obama genuinely cares about America, but not for America – he desires a humbled America.
The decline takes many forms, from fertility through welfare recipients, through budgets and debts.
By the end of this decade the percentage of population over 60 crosses the 25% threshold. The ‘replacement’ population is both significantly less educated and less motivated – 40% of all births in 2011 were out-of-wedlock. Unemployment for those with a high-school diploma or less stood at 12.2% in 2011 and is growing, rapidly. US overall fertility stands now at 1.6 and continues in rapid decline, including the Hispanic population; the American population pyramid is distinctly top-heavy. What all this means is a smaller workforce, addicted to welfare (why work!), with much lower education (high functional illiteracy) and non-patriotic (in 2012, only 49% of the population considered themselves patriotic). US population rose from 200 to 300 million since 1970, but the number of two-parent families with children remained unchanged 25 million. Today’s labor market is dominated by corporations sourcing labor globally. Corporations neither desire nor need lazy dolts.
America is a nation of takers:
- Entitlements, after inflation and population growth, grew by over 700% in 50 years,
- half of Americans live in a household that receives one or more payments, 18% of all personal income;
- only half the working-age population works.
Americans with a stake in economic growth are a shrinking minority of the population.
The US administration has a policy of extrication from the ME, as it no longer imports significant energy from the region. What does the diminishing role mean for Jordan and other allies?
Vacuums are always filled by other forces – in nature and in politics. "The Libyan fiasco reflects the American policy's sad reality" reported the official Chinese newspaper, The Global Times. China smells America’s weakness. Libya is a source of NATO-quality small arms and World-class Jihadis, creating havoc throughout Africa and the Middle East. Everyone outside America knows this. Americans do not.; the founders’ vision of “an informed populace” has ceased to exist.
The budget crisis is a result of poor political management of defense spending. “We are facing the prolonged specter of sequestration [$500 billion additional cuts over 10 years], while under a continuing resolution [no budget], while we are just beginning to absorb $478 billion worth of cuts from 2011 and while we’re still fighting and resourcing a war,” US Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs testified. “That’s unprecedented.” Under Eisenhower, the US spent 51% on defense; today, 72% of federal government expenditures are entitlements. Reagan’s 600-ship Navy was down to 285-ships when Obama took office, it is now declining to 230, the smallest level since 1915 (and that number includes at least two carrier flotillas that cannot sail for lack of fuel); the Air Force is loosing 200 more airplanes, according to General Philip Breedlove, the Air Force vice chief of staff. According to Breedlove, the average fighter age is 22 years and tankers average 47 years. There is a gross shortage and obsolescence of parts. We mention unemployment above. Nearly a million persons are expected to loose their jobs in the defense sector from sequestration; while US enemies are increasing efforts to develop advanced capabilities. Timely recovery will not be a viable option, even if funding is somehow restored.
If the Government of the United States decided that it wishes to attack Iran, to destroy or seriously inhibit, that nation’s nuclear aspirations, the military capability for such a prolonged air strike no longer exists, neither from land-based or carrier-based aircraft. Global power projection is no longer an option, and such an option cannot be restored within a foreseeable timeframe.
The United States of America is no longer a Superpower. The US of A is going down in the annals of history as the world's shortest-lived empire. This is here, now, not a long-range prediction.